The Master of Public Health (MPH) is the basic professional degree offered by the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health. The joint DVM-MPH degree program ensures that the graduate has a general understanding of the field of public health and specific competence in areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics and health policy. The graduate is prepared for careers in public health practice at local, state, and federal levels, in research in the private or public sectors, or a hybrid career of private veterinary medical practice and consultative work at a local health department.
The joint DVM-MPH degree program is a five-year program of study consisting of a combination of online and on-site courses and concluding with a research-based capstone project. Students in the program must satisfy the required four years of the professional veterinary medicine curriculum as well as the required 42 semester hours of the Epidemiology Concentration of the MPH degree (see below).
MPH Course Requirements (Epidemiology Concentration)
Please see the course requirements for the degree excerpted from the UIC School of Public Health Student Handbook 2015-2016.
Students accepted and matriculated into the professional DVM curriculum may apply to the joint DVM-MPH degree program. DVM student applicants must:
- have earned a baccalaureate degree,
- be in good academic standing in the DVM program
- meet the requirements for the MPH program at the UIC School of Public Health.
Because applications for the joint program are considered early in the spring semester, students are encouraged to consult with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs and the director of the DVM-MPH program during fall semester.
Interested students are also encouraged to take the introductory public health course, Public Health Concepts and Practice (CHSC 400), a core course of the MPH program, to confirm and further develop their interest in public health. The course counts for elective credit within the DVM program and, if the student is admitted to the MPH program, counts for core credit in that program. Students are allowed to take one additional online MPH core course while their applications are being considered.
Veterinary students may complete the four years of their veterinary training at the College of Veterinary Medicine while taking UIC public health core courses online or on-site in Chicago. Up until 2015, six “traditional” core courses, accounting for 19 semester hours, were taken online and were usually completed during the veterinary curriculum. The remaining 23 hours of didactic coursework and field experience were completed during the academic year in Chicago. Beginning in 2016, the “traditional” core of six required courses will be phased out and replaced by the new “integrated” core, which consists of 14 semester hours of credit (please see “MPH course requirements” on the Center for One Health Illinois website).
Students currently enrolled in the DVM-MPH joint degree program are required to complete all six traditional core courses by the end of spring semester 2017. Students admitted to the MPH degree program during the 2016 application period and in subsequent years will be admitted into the integrated core curriculum.
Joint-degree students spend a minimum of two semesters in residence at the School of Public Health following the third or fourth years of the professional veterinary curriculum. Past experience suggests that most students will opt to finish their DVM studies prior to finishing the MPH degree in Chicago.
Students are encouraged to spend the summer after DVM graduation in Chicago in a public health-related setting while completing their field experience and/or working on a capstone project. Alternatively, with the agreement of the co-advisors, capstone research may be initiated and completed while in residence in Urbana.
It is not uncommon for students to complete all online courses, some of their field experience requirement, and the some of the capstone project during their veterinary curriculum prior to the academic year in Chicago, leaving approximately 21 hours of classwork to complete the MPH. Graduate DVM students, finishing the MPH degree in Chicago, have the opportunity to take elective courses in Chicago, in addition to required courses, and to work in private veterinary practices and other health agencies while completing the MPH program.
Field Experience and Capstone Project
Field experiences and the capstone project are opportunities for MPH students to participate in professional public health activities while developing their own meaningful project. The field practicum experience frequently provides the foundation for the student’s capstone project. The capstone project requires the student to synthesize knowledge acquired in course work and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in some aspect of professional public health practice.
Many of the externships that students participate in during their four years of the DVM curriculum qualify for field experience in the MPH program. Examples of these externships are the CDC senior epidemiology elective for fourth-year students as well as externships with the United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies. Work at a local health department usually qualifies as well.
Students must contact the field experience coordinator for the academic Division in which they are studying at UIC School of Public Health for approval of each externship that they wish to use for field experience. Additionally, students must register for IPHS 650, Field Experience in Public Health, for the semester during which the externship will occur.
Students intending to present their capstone project for the completion of the MPH degree must register for IPHS 698, MPH Capstone Experience, for the semester during which the presentation will occur.
Field experience and capstone projects are intended to occur after students have completed the core courses of the MPH curriculum.
History of Veterinary Contributions to Public Health
Veterinarians have made a substantial contribution to public health within the state of Illinois and nationally over the past 120 years. During the 20th century, the life expectancy at birth in the United States rose from 43 years to 73 years. To explain that remarkable gain in life expectancy at birth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Of those ten achievements, control of infectious diseases, safer and healthier foods, immunizations, and workplace safety are areas in which veterinarians have played and continue to play an active and productive role.
Recent research has suggested that far more infectious diseases are zoonotic than previously thought. Several examples of zoonotic exposures have occurred in the recent past, from SARS, MERS and avian flu virus to filoviruses and monkey pox. Many other common diseases, such as systemic mycoses and vector-borne diseases, are shared by humans and animals.
In 2002, as West Nile virus made its way westward across the United States, Illinois became the epicenter for West Nile encephalitis, totaling more human cases (884) and deaths (67) and more equine cases (1,107) than any other state.
In 2003, the first human cases of monkey pox in the United States were diagnosed in Illinois and Wisconsin and linked to the exotic pet trade. Illinois veterinarians, physicians, and other health experts quickly became focused on zoonoses as a significant health threat to humans and animals.
In 2003, based in part on their experiences with monkey pox and West Nile virus encephalitis, faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health began developing a collaborative joint-degree program, designed to award both the doctor of veterinary medicine degree and the master’s of public health degree in five years.
The Center for One Health Illinois has funded research by DVM/MPH students completing the capstone project required for the MPH degree. Funding is awarded on the basis of scientific merit of projects with strong animal, ecosystem and human health components. A sample of completed capstone projects is listed below:
Capstone Projects (completed and year presented)
- Hennenfent A. The Impact of Substance Abuse on Food Safety Knowledge and Beliefs in HIV Patients. 2014
- Varela K. Too much of a good thing, global biofuelmandates and food insecurity in Guatemala.
- Davis H. Predictors of Success in Salmonella Foodborne Outbreak Investigations in the United States 1998-2010.
- Szilagyi K. Epigenetics and Health Disparities of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Chicago, IL from 2006-2013. 2013.
- Deutsch JC. Antibiotic Resistance Prevalence in Turtles and Fish from Salt Creek and Busse Woods with Varying Exposure to Outflow from a Wastewater Treatment Plan. 2013
- Burdorf K, The prevalence of E. coli, Enterobacteria and Salmonella in wild bird and cattle populations in central Illinois. 2011.
- Kostiuk SL, Temporal and spatial distribution of blastomycosis cases in humans and dogs in Illinois (2001-2007). 2010.
- Hickey MJ. Simian Immunodeficiency Virus and Parasitism of Chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. 2010
- Pierce Abou-Daoud A. Risk factors for sporadic, non-typhoidal Salmonella in two counties in Illinois. 2012.
- Goel V. The epidemiology of bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease in Illinois cervid and cattle. 2012.
- Uchtmann, N. Barriers to the development of an integrated One Health surveillance system in Illinois. 2012.
- DeBaene K. A Theoretical Model of an Avian-Human Influenza Outbreak at Lincoln Park Zoo. 2011.
- Eisenbart V. The Association between Bacterial Load in Food and Environmental Surfaces of Restaurants and Public Health Departments Documentation of Food-Borne Illness Risk Factor Violations. 2011.
- Mathewson A. MRSA and MRS in horses and their handlers. 2010.
- Wrobel L. Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of a Geographically and Temporally Matched Set of Candida albicans Isolates from Humans and Nonmigratory Wildlife in Central Illinois. 2010.
- Sweeney I. Exchange of virulence and resistance genes of staph infecting canine companions. 2015 expected.
- Joshi, V. Injuries in shelter workers at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois, 2009-2012. 2014 expected.
- Shobe A. 21st Century Healthy Communities – IPLAN. 2015 expected.
- Rasmussen C. Investigation into enteric bacteria and antibiotic resistance in a novel box turtle population from both a rural and urban landscape. 2016 expected.
- Weldu A. The influence of urban storm water management practices on mosquito blood feeding behavior and the potential for West Nile Virus enzootic amplification. 2016 expected.
- Szilágyi KL, Liu C, Zhang X, Wang T, Fortman JD, Zhang W, Garcia JGN. Epigenetic Contribution of the Myosin Light Chain Kinase Gene to the Risk for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Translational Res, doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2016.07.020
- Herrmann JA, Dahm NM, Ruiz MO, Brown WB. Temporal and Spatial Distribution of Tick-Borne Disease Cases among Humans and Canines in Illinois (2000–2009). Env. Health Ins. 2014:8(s2) 15–27 doi: 10.4137/EHi.s16017.
- Johnson YJ, Nadler Y, Field E, Myint MS, O’Hara-Ruiz M, Ruman A, Olson S, Herrmann JA, Briscoe J, Hickey MJ, Kunkle J. Flu at the Zoo: Emergency Management Training for the Nation’s Zoos and Aquariums. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2014; 11 (3) DOI: 10.1515/jhsem-2013-0052
- Szilágyi K, Garcia JGN, and Zhang W. (2013) Exploring DNA Methylation of MYLK as a Contributor to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Disparities. J Pulm Respir Med, 3(4): e127.
- Herrmann JA, Kostiuk SL, Dworkin MD, Johnson YJ. Temporal and spatial distribution of blastomycosis cases in humans and dogs in Illinois (2001-2007). JAVMA 239(3), August 1, 2011. 335 – 343.
- Wrobel L, Whittington JK, Pujol C, Oh Soon-Hwan, Ruiz MO, Pfaller MA, Diekema DJ, Soll DR, Hoyer LL. Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of a Geographically and Temporally Matched Set of Candida albicans Isolates from Humans and Nonmigratory Wildlife in Central Illinois. Eukaryotic Cell September 2008 vol. 7 no. 9 1475-1486.