The Accelerated MPH in Epidemiology Helps Students Stay on Track

Where does disease come from and how does it spread? Those are the questions that students who are earning a Master of Public Health with a Concentration in Epidemiology are learning to ask – and finding the answers.

“We focus on the population perspective of health and sickness and provide students with the tools and skills they need to understand factors driving population health,” said Wasim Maziak, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology. “Such evidence is instrumental to the development of effective, evidence-based solutions to major threats to the health in the society.”

A track often chosen by students who are looking to delve deeper into the medical field, epidemiology offers the opportunity to understand population health and trends – how diseases arise and evolve.

Amanda Bahamonde giving a poster presentation.

“I decided to study epidemiology because I am interested in the distribution of disease and the determinants of health. I felt that it was valuable to take the time to learn about how health outcomes are related to factors like race/ethnicity, education level, or socioeconomic status,” Amanda Bahamonde, 2019.

Highly motivated students at Stempel College may elect to take the one-year accelerated track offered by the Epidemiology department. For those students, the accelerated track offers an opportunity to study full-time and complete the MPH in just 12 months. The program is designed for students who are typically transitioning to medical, dental or nursing school upon graduation.

“My goal was to apply for the 2019 entry cycle to medical school and would have 2018 as a gap year. The accelerated track allowed me to fill my gap year with a rigorous program that I enjoyed and still was able to meet my timeline,” Lillie Garvin, 2018.

Lillie Garvin volunteering at a post-Hurricane Irma relief event.

Combining a degree in epidemiology that understands changing global health trends with a medical, dental or nursing degree gives students the tools to perform at the highest levels of their career in health-related fields. The MPH in epidemiology provides the expertise to handle overarching population health and disease drivers while students who choose to continue their education in health-delivery related fields can then use that knowledge as a basis for more direct, patient-centered care.

“The pace was perfect because I was able to complete my degree in time to apply to medical school in my target application year. It was also great because the cohort was smaller which allowed for better relationships to be built with my professors and advisors,” continued Garvin.

For students at Stempel College, a concentration on epidemiology means students have the opportunity to work alongside researchers who are investigating Latino health, LGBTQ health, health disparities, tobacco control, women’s health, and HIV/AIDS. Students may also have the opportunity to attend national health conferences and even present research in front of industry peers and experts.

Cindy Lopez, Prof. Florence Greer, and Daniel Parras at a local health event

“Attending the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, was very impactful to me as a student,” said Daniel Parras, 2017. “ I was working as a volunteer research assistant in the Hispanic Emerging Adult & Adolescent Research Team (H.E.A.R.T.), led by Dr. Miguel A. Cano, and had the opportunity to present a poster at the conference on an abstract titled ‘Depressive symptoms among emerging adult college students of Mexican heritage: Examining the role of ethnic discrimination and intragroup marginalization.’ Many attendees engaged me in discussions on the topic after seeing my work.”

“Carting to our students’ diverse needs and career perspectives, and seeing them succeed professionally, is what drives our approach to higher education at the department of epidemiology,” concluded Maziak.

For students interested in applying, visit https://stempel.fiu.edu/admissions/ or the SOPHAS.org website. For questions, please call the Epidemiology department directly at 305-348-0118.

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