The Dartmouth Institute’s Online MPH Program Is Having Immediate Impact on Careers & in Communities
Just seven months into the online Master of Public Health program at The Dartmouth Institute, the 28 members of the founding class are already taking what they’ve learned out into the field.
During the third residential period of the program from March 20-23, three students —Whitney Hammond, Jeremy Lapeyrouse and Joanna Sullivan—took a few minutes from their busy week to share exactly how they are applying what they’ve learned to achieve their professional goals and lead change in health care. Read their stories below.
Director of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Screening Section, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
Our office partners with local clinics on developing and implementing quality improvement strategies in their practices. What I’ve learned in the online MPH program about coproducing health care has enabled me and my staff to move beyond the idea that quality improvement is just about getting the patient better care through improving provider behavior. Instead, it’s about working better with the patient, and the onus is on both the patient and the provider to be informed and make choices together.
This realization made me reassess which quality indicators we use to measure success with our partners, especially given the importance of shared decision making. For example, when collecting information on cancer screening, we typically measure whether a provider’s patients had been screened; if “yes,” this is considered a success. However, we haven’t had a way to capture whether the provider had a conversation with his/her patient about screening. So, we would have marked down a provider for saying, “this woman I spoke with actually made the decision not to be screened,” when really this should be counted as a success. While we haven’t yet figured out a perfect way to measure this information, we now know where we can make improvements.
Health Informatics Consultant, Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana
I work on the health care analytics team, where we analyze data on variation in health care utilization such as average length of hospital stays or variation in back procedures. We investigate trends and patterns to understand which procedures may, or may not be, effective in helping to improve patient outcomes. From my studies in the online MPH program, I’ve learned to approach the data with a healthy skepticism and to question how we can do better.
That’s why through my practicum work I want to focus on hotspotting. This is a method coined by Jeff Brenner that focuses on identifying extreme patterns of health care use in a certain geographic area. The goal is to design an intervention to provide better outcomes. For example, if someone is going to the doctor and/or ER several dozen times in a year, that’s a negative outcome for the patient. He or she may not be receiving proper treatment which is probably why they keep going. However, by figuring out a better intervention to provide a better outcome, you could make them healthier and save them a lot of money. I plan to use this theory to study Blue Cross data in Baton Rouge.
Clinical Research Nurse, Boston Children’s Hospital
In my current role, I work at a clinical and translational study unit at Boston Children’s Hospital where we manage about 200 research studies. Part of my work involves verifying the informed consent and assent process for patient participation in our clinical trials. What I have been studying about health care ethics in the online MPH program is helping me become more adept at managing the ethical and legal aspects of this process, and aligning them with patient and clinician considerations.
I also have a passion for global health. I’ve volunteered in Managua, Nicaragua, with administering tetanus vaccinations. And, last year I worked in Haiti at a Partners in Health Hospital, teaching nurses about infectious diseases and how to educate their nursing staff on protocols and procedures. I can’t wait to apply what I’m learning in the online MPH program to my next endeavor in global health.