Jonathan Smith, MPH'18 (left) is one of over 50 Dartmouth Institute online MPH students working to effect transformational change in our communities and health care systems through practicum projects at health sites across the country.
The Applied Practice Experience Gives Online MPH Students an Opportunity to Improve Health Care in Communities Across the Country
Students in Dartmouth Institute’s online MPH program come from across the country, bringing a wealth of professional and life experience with them. They have deep ties to their communities and are passionate about improving health and health care. They also understand that in order to realize gains in public health—and effect transformational change in our communities and health care systems—we need to move beyond the current boundaries of those systems to find new opportunities, non-traditional approaches, and unlikely partners.
As part of the required Applied Practice Experience (APE) through the Institute's practicum course, students in our online program have an opportunity to translate methods and skills learned in the classroom to a public or population health practice site. See how the four students below are combining their experience, training, and passion to improve health—and change lives—in communities across the country.
Chelsea Strandberg, INHC, MPH ’18
Community: Student population, Sacramento State University
Opportunity: Young adults who establish and maintain a healthy diet are less likely to become obese, develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. As an integrative nutrition health coach (INHC), Strandberg understands well that what we consume on a daily basis now can impact our health decades later. College, she says, is a critical intervention point, as many young people begin to exert dietary autonomy for the first time in their lives. Read More
Krysta Harvey, MPH ’18
Community: Kearny County, Kansas; Population: 4,000
Opportunity: Working as an administrative services manager at Kearny County Hospital (KCH), Harvey and her colleagues heard stories about how hard it was to find quality child care. The hospital also had reportedly experienced challenges recruiting new employees to move to the area due to difficulties finding reliable child care. Access to affordable, high-quality child care can have far-reaching effects on a child’s, and on a family’s, overall health, well-being, and economic stability. An avalanche of research has shown that development in early childhood lays the foundation for health and well-being, and parents without access to affordable, high-quality child care may not be able to work outside the home or work full-time, threatening the family's economic stability. A child care shortage also can take its toll on the strength and viability of a community. Read More
Laura Ward, MPH ’18
Community: Hill Center for Women, a program offering psychiatric and psychological services for women with histories of trauma and related disorders (McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA)
Opportunity: Approximately 20-50% of adults in the primary care settings in the United States report experiencing physical or sexual abuse during childhood, while reports of abuse may run as high as 70% in patients with substance abuse, depression, irritable bowel or chronic pain. Yet, patients with a history of childhood trauma may receive inadequate or incomplete care when trauma history is overlooked or not discussed in a medical setting. A clear understanding of the patient’s perspective and preferences regarding disclosure of childhood trauma is not well studied. Research in this area could lead to more effective screening protocols, treatment plans, and, ultimately, better health outcomes. Read More
Ben Bulkley, MPH ’18
Community: Four-county region in Michigan North of Flint: Saginaw, Bay, Midland, and Isabella Counties (450,000 residents)
Opportunity: With active non-profit organizations in the region—Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA) and the Great Lakes Bay Region Alliance—this area north of Michigan has potent resources that can be utilized in developing programs aimed at improving health, health delivery, and economic growth. Not only does the area have strong community organizations, it also has a solid anchor employer in Dow Chemical, as well as a significant health care ecosystem including four hospitals and a medical school. In 2017, the Rippel Foundation’s national health initiative, ReThink Health, joined with MiHIA and the Great Lakes Bay Region Alliance to support a Health and Economy Initiative. This work included collecting stakeholder perspectives, mapping the system of health, and helping move toward a shared commitment on the most impactful initiatives. Thanks to an introduction from Dartmouth Institute Director Elliott Fisher, Ben Bulkley—whose past experience includes serving as the president of Aetna Pharmacy and vice president of Aetna specialty business—was able to bring his experience as a business leader to the project. Read More