School of Public Health puts U of S on the map The Sheaf January 23, 2014 12:00 am News TAYLOR BOROWETZ Bruce Reed, right, teaches a student in the School of Public Health. The University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health has received international designation from the Agency for Public Health Education Accreditation. This makes the U of S school the first non-European school of public health to receive the international designation from this agency, and makes the U of S Master of Public Health the second accredited program in Canada. Accreditation was granted for a five-year period, meaning the graduate program currently meets and exceeds competencies of the field and an array of quality standards set by the APHEA. The school must continue to meet these requirements to maintain accreditation. The School of Public Health is a relatively new interdisciplinary entity at the U of S, where diverse thinkers can work closely with each other and the general population to understand key public health issues. It offers opportunities for innovative graduate training, research and programming to ensure that the public health system is able to respond to future challenges. Robert Buckingham, director of the School of Public Health, said that achieving these standards means that the students who graduate from the program are well prepared to enter the workforce, but also have the skills necessary to solve problems and improve public health. “Accreditation for our program means we have met an international standard of excellence and competencies in the five areas of public health: epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health policy and health management,” Buckingham said in a press release. “We are one of the few schools in Canada to have our master’s program accredited, which puts us on par with many renowned international schools in Europe and the United States.” This accreditation will give the school additional leverage to recruit students and faculty from Canada and around the globe. It also has the potential to increase research capacity. Buckingham said the school’s success is a reflection of its growth. In 2008, only 17 students were enrolled in the program and today there are over 240 students. The school receives more than 700 applications each year from over 20 countries, competing for 80 seats in the first-year classes. Almost 40 per cent of the school’s students are from outside of Canada. According to the accreditation procedures of the APHEA, an independent international accreditation system brings important value as far as benefitting students and academics, and recognizing a school’s quality beyond the borders of its home country. In addition, it states that a degree from a European accredited program potentially provides the graduate with increased opportunities for employment internationally and allows for transferability of qualifications. U of S president Ilene Busch-Vishniac has also recognized the importance of the accreditation. “This is an outstanding accomplishment for the School of Public Health’s students, faculty and staff,” Busch-Vishniac said in the press release. “‘One Health’ is one of the university’s signature areas and the School of Public Health is well placed to prepare its graduates for a rewarding and challenging career in health fields, here in Saskatchewan and around the world. This is indeed an exciting milestone for the U of S.” — Photo: University of Saskatchewan/flickr MPH graduate It is a good thing that the accreditation “might potentially provide increased opportunities for employment internationally” since the job market for public health graduates in Canada is very very small and competitive. Graduates from a few years ago are still having difficulties finding employment in the field, let alone full time, permanent positions.