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New certificate offers benefits of global health awareness

A new certificate program, which is designed to expose students to health on a more globalized level, is now open to students in majors across Ohio University.

The Global Health Certificate rolled out this month and is taking applications. The certificate is a product of the partnership between the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

“We’re really encouraging students from what you wouldn’t normally consider health “fields” to participate because we’re trying to redefine what healthcare means. It includes things like water supply, infrastructure, education, communications,” Deborah Meyer, director of the Global Health Certificate, said. “All of that is really rolled into healthcare delivery, healthcare services, healthcare access, all of those topics.”

In today’s world, Meyer said that she considers global healthcare awareness to be important. Even students who plan on practicing in the healthcare field within the United States can benefit from the certificate coursework because it is likely that they will be exposed to people of different cultures.

“I mean in this day and age, everybody’s connected,” Meyer said. “They’re connected through technology; they’re connected often physically and so gaining an understanding of other societies, other cultures in itself is important because we don’t just live in this narrow little world anymore.”

The certificate has a minimum of 19 approved credit hours, with the beginning coursework being offered online now. Students will be introduced to the subject with “Introduction to Global Health,” which has been offered now for about a year. Three other courses are required for the program: “Tropical Health Biology,” “Global Health Research and Service” and “Global Health Capstone Experience.” In addition, students will be able to pick two approved electives, which have the option to be more focused on the student’s specific major.

The capstone experience is an 80-hour global health experience that allows students the opportunity to set goals for what he or she would like to see come out of it. The field experience can be completed in the United States or abroad, but for now the program will be selected from an approved list of locations so the communities can benefit most from the student’s service.

In the past, Meyer said it seemed that students were not prepared for their experiences in the field in other countries, so when developing the certificate, that was taken into consideration.

“They go in there for two weeks and they go back and that’s that. We wanted more of a sustainable long-term view for the University and for the students,” Meyer said. “We don’t want them to just go into a community, do something and leave because we want the community to benefit, not just our students.”
A graduate-level Global Health Certificate is tentatively scheduled to be available in 2015.

The Global Health Initiative at Ohio University led to the Global Health Certificate with Gillian Ice as director of the initiative. A task force spent the past two years developing the certificate so global health can be integrated into the curriculum.

Applications for the program are available on a rolling basis at www.ohio.edu/globalhealth. The student’s most recent DARS and a statement of purpose are required with the application. Applicants will also interview with Meyer. Right now, Meyer said she is looking for 15-20 students to participate in the certificate. Those with questions can contact Meyer at dmeyer2@ohio.edu and 740-593-2266.