Master of Public Health

The School of Nursing’s (SON) Online Primary HealthCare and Health Disparities (PHCHD) Track of the Oregon Master of Public Health (OMPH) program is based upon the concepts and principles of primary healthcare. The World Health Organization (1978) defines primary healthcare as "essential healthcare based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology, made universally available to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination". In this view, primary healthcare is both a philosophy of healthcare and an approach to providing health services. By emphasizing improvement in primary healthcare accessibility and quality for underserved populations, this degree program prepares graduates to tackle health disparities in a unique way.

Healthcare disparities threaten efforts to improve health in the US and abroad. The presence of these disparities pose moral and ethical dilemmas that will be among the most important challenges to today’s rapidly changing healthcare systems. The cost of inadequate care may have significant implications for overall health care expenditures. Persistent racial and ethnic inequality creates a rift in the social fabric. As long as disparities are present, overall healthcare quality will be poor.

The School of Nursing’s Master of Public Health program is offered in conjunction with the Oregon Master of Public Health Program. The OMPH collaboration includes OHSU, Portland State University and Oregon State University. The OMPH program combines broad training in public health with specific education in one of the specialty tracks offered at the participating universities.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the OHSU SON did a thorough evaluation of all of the graduate public health programming. The SON viewed this as a time to infuse the graduate education public health programming with new models that will embrace community and transitional care opportunities called for by the IOM Future of Nursing report as well as the strong emphasis on building leadership skills outlined by the Tier 2 competencies from the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice. The MPH faculty at the SON determined that the existing PHCHD required courses substantively cover the critical content needed for public health workforce education. By combining content from our existing MPH track curriculum with tailored electives focused on community and transitional care and or leadership skills, our graduates will be very well prepared to address the challenges in the evolving healthcare systems.

With this degree students are prepared to assume clinical leadership roles in a variety of settings, including but not limited to community health centers and health maintenance organizations, community agencies and health departments, and official and voluntary health agencies and organizations. Graduates are able to ensure the quality of implemented clinical and community care activities, act as a resource for the development of innovative and expanded responses in clinical and community care, coordinate care with regional and county offices, interface with all services involved with the care of patients, and provide counseling and education for families and patients receiving care.