Entrance Torch

A Passion for Health: Valpo students, professors identify new ways to promote health and prevent disease.

Professor Amy Cory has a passion for improving the health conditions of others. And with Valpo’s bachelor of science in public health, her students in the College of Nursing and Health Professions will learn new ways to promote health around the world.

Valparaiso University recently began accepting applications for the public health bachelor’s program, which strengthens one of the nation’s best nursing and health professions colleges by integrating evidence-based solutions to improve health conditions for communities at home and abroad with Valpo’s public health care curriculum of cutting-edge research, theory, and techniques.

A professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, Amy C. Cory, Ph.D., RN, says Valpo is now in the position to help increase the public health workforce — those promoting and protecting the health of populations — domestically and internationally.

“Valpo is in the prime position to move public health forward, including global health, given the international focus of the University’s mission, vision, and strategic plan,” she says. Students will have ample study abroad opportunities as well as exceptional public health internships domestically and in other countries.

Dean Janet M. Brown, Ph.D., RN, says the public health program is ideal for students who desire to work in health promotion and disease prevention, the fastest growing sector of health care.

“The College of Nursing and Health Professions prepares graduates for the dynamic complexities of the health care industry, where they promote and protect the health of individuals and communities,” she says.

One example of public health in action, Professor Cory says, is her work in a small Nicaraguan village. Since 2007, she and students at Valpo have been working with village residents to identify and mitigate their health concerns. Together, they discovered that many of the village’s women and children suffered respiratory disease caused by cooking over open fire in closed kitchen spaces. Since 2011, Valpo has built nearly 100 improved stoves in the community; 50 more will be installed this spring.

But aspirations to work abroad aren’t required to pursue the degree, Professor Cory says. Public health professionals are needed here at home. In fact, she has plans to partner with communities as close as 20 miles from Valpo to improve health outcomes of local residents.

Professor Cory says future public health professionals in the United States are needed in environmental health, disaster preparedness, occupational health, and practitioners working to contain flu outbreaks and decrease infant mortality rates in at-risk populations.

“Health care in the U.S. is shifting to prevention,” Professor Cory says. “Valpo’s public health program will help students understand why populations contract diseases rather than just how to treat them.”

In addition, Valpo has several existing programs — such as health care leadership, engineering, and environmental sciences — that complement the new program, Professor Cory says.

Public health students will develop a foundation in core public health concepts, including health behavior, health services administration, environmental health, and epidemiology. Students accepted into the new program will enroll in fall 2015.

Students can also pursue a bachelor of science in public health/master of public health through Valpo’s accelerated, five-year option. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to enhance global community health and education competence to promote healthy living and prevent disease in human populations through ecological approaches across multiple determinants of health.

In the master’s program, students will take advanced courses in public health theory, research, and practice, and they will graduate prepared to apply principles of global community health and education to diverse populations in the United States and around the world.