Celebrate Public Health Week

MCPHS Recognizes National Public Health Week

April 06, 2017

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    This week, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is recognizing National Public Health Week.

    The initiative, run by the American Public Health Association, celebrates the power of prevention, advocating for health and fair policies, sharing strategies for successful partnerships, and championing the role of a strong public health system.

    All of these objectives are exemplified by the public health community at MCPHS. The School of Arts and Sciences, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in public health, is home to a passionate and engaged community of faculty, staff, and students, all focused on advancing the field of public health.

    Professor Carly Levy, Instructor of Public Health, explains that public health is about looking at the big picture.

    “Public health is not about diagnosis and treatment of one individual, but understanding the patterns of injury and illness throughout a population to improve health outcomes,” said Professor Levy.

    Through this guiding principle, public health specialists address the most complex health problems. Public health specialists also understand that the health of our communities is affected by more than just access to healthcare.

    “When we talk about health and wellness, only about 25% of health is attributable to healthcare or medical care,” said Professor Levy. “The remaining 75% can be attributed to the social detriments of health, or the conditions in which we are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that impact health and our quality of life.”

    In fact, according to the American Public Health Association, location, income, education, race, and access to healthcare can mean as much as a 15-year difference in life expectancy.

    Professor Levy is focused on community resiliency as one of the key aspects needed to improve population health.

    “So often in public health and other disciplines, we focus on a deficit model by listing off the problems and the issues facing a community,” said Professor Levy. “I think we should be focusing on the strengths within a community and how to enhance the capacity to deal with complex problems facing a community.”

    When we do this, says Professor Levy, any issue can be tackled and eventually overcome.

    “By reducing income inequality and poverty, dismantling racism and discrimination, improving our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings, improving our educational system, and addressing other social determinants of health, we will improve health outcomes,” said Professor Levy.

    One way to address these disparities is through big data. “Data and community mapping are huge conversations right now within the field of public health,” said Professor Levy. “The more we know about a community and where the areas of urgent need are, the better we are able to dedicate the minimal resources we have.”

    Professor Levy draws a connection to precision medicine, which is medical care designed to optimize efficiency or therapeutic benefit for particular groups of patients.

    “How do we target the communities in greatest need? This is precision public health,” said Professor Levy.

    To address these complex health issues, public health professionals work in a variety of fields.

    “There are so many areas of public health that you can get involved in – biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy, behavioral health, environmental health, population, and more,” said Professor Levy.

    Professor Levy’s advice for those interested in a future in public health is to explore. “Take courses in as many areas that interest you,” said Professor Levy. “Network with public health professionals. Join a professional organization. Read as much as possible on public health.”

    The goal of this exploration, explains Professor Levy, is to discover the area where you will make your impact.

    “All of these strategies will help you find an area of public health in which you wish to contribute in a meaningful way,” said Professor Levy.

    In recognition of National Public Health Week, the Master of Public Health program at MCPHS is accepting donations to the Greater Boston Food Bank through Friday, April 7 on the Boston campus.