UW School of Public Health E-news
November 2009  |  Return to issue home

New Student Orientation Gets Start at SPH Graduation

Students at orientation
Students take a break during orientation.

For Jenny Schechter, a new M.P.H. student in the School’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Program (Health Services), SPH Orientation brought the real world into the classroom. “It was an important opportunity to apply a public health framework to a relevant real life event. It is great to enter the M.P.H. program with an understanding of the application of scholarship on practice.”

Odd though it may seem, our new SPH Orientation got its start at graduation. Every June at our awards ceremony and graduation celebration, parents tell Dean Pat Wahl how much they enjoy learning about the whole School. And students tell her they wish they’d had time to take courses in departments other than their own and learn more about the breadth of the field of public health.

So Dean Wahl asked a team led by Cindy Watts, professor of Health Services, to develop a new, School-wide orientation for all incoming students, focused directly on the field of public health and the complexity of public health issues.

Panel discussion at orientation

Department chairs and representatives describe their fields. From left: Rich Fenske, Judy Wasserheit, Victoria Holt, Bruce Weir and Larry Kessler.

Students came prepared to discuss an integrated public health case study, based on the book Fateful Harvest by Duff Wilson. (Schechter, the new M.P.H. student, says the part of orientation she appreciated most was the case study.) Students explored how the pieces of the public health puzzle fit together and the important role their own discipline plays—as one part of an interdisciplinary team—in solving that complex puzzle. They interacted with local participants in the real-life drama described by Wilson and heard the perspective of public health experts—both practitioners and researchers—on the issues raised in the book. They also met faculty, chairs and peers and got a sense of the richness of educational opportunities offered by our School.

Photos by Lawrie Robertson

November 2009  |  Return to issue home

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