Public Health

Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Courses

BPH 101 Introduction to the U.S. Health System

Compared to other industrialized countries, the U.S. health system presents a series of contradictions. We lead in medical advances and state-of-the art technology, but live shorter lives. We make extensive investments in health care resources, yet fail to provide basic universal access to medical services. This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the health system in the United States, including the structure and function of its various private and public components. Students will learn about the history, characteristics, workforce, services, costs, policy context, and future of health care in the U.S. Cr 3.

BPH 160/161 Biology of Human Health

This course examines basic human disease concepts and explores these concepts through a biomedical public health perspective. Main topics of study include the causes of human disease, modes of disease transmission, and major diseases that currently contribute to the global burden of disease. Contemporary public health issues in the study of human disease, including chronic disease, vaccination, antibiotic resistance, and the threat of global pandemics will be explored. Note: this course is equivalent to the Natural and Applied Sciences course SCI 130. Cr. 3 plus Lab, 1 Cr.

BPH 201 Fundamentals of Public Health

This course provides an overview of the public health system and examines the purpose, history, organization, approach, functions and determinants of health. The course places special emphasis on current health issues from our daily lives to highlight the relevance of public health. Trends, successes and challenges from a population perspective will be discussed as well as various tools and techniques used to address public health issues. Cr 3.

BPH 205 Health Communication and Marketing

This course focuses on the use of health communication strategies, models, and theories that enhance the delivery of public health programs in various settings. The course introduces students to health communication theory and social marketing strategies to create effective, evidence-based, culturally appropriate health communication messages and campaigns. Cr 3.

BPH 210 Health Disparities and Social Justice

Is health a human right? If so, what role does society have in ensuring that every person has an equal opportunity to health? This course develops students’ understanding of health disparities across social, economic and cultural groups as well as strategies to reduce those disparities. Students learn how the marginalization of populations based on race, ethnicity, class, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status and other factors affects health behavior and health status. Through a framework of social justice, the course considers how a more equitable distribution of social, economic, and political resources can address the social determinants of health and achieve health equity. Cr 3

BPH 315 Population Health Improvement

Public health is fundamentally tasked with improving the health of groups, communities and populations. Students learn participatory approaches for planning and implementing health programs to improve population health in a variety of community-based settings. This course emphasizes professional ethics, needs assessment, the use of evidence in program design, capacity- and coalition-building, proposal writing, and implementation of initiatives to prevent disease and promote healthy living and behavior. Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Public Health (BPH 201). Cr 3.

BPH 320 Methods of Public Health Research

This course teaches the fundamentals of public health research design and the common issues that may arise when trying to study public health topics, including ethical considerations. It provides an introduction to quantitative, qualitative, mixed method and participatory approaches to research. The course builds skills for conducting public health research and evaluation using the course textbook, public health articles and class discussion. Prerequisites: Fundamentals of Public Health (BPH 201) and any introductory statistics course (e.g., MAT 120 or LCC 120). Cr 3.

BPH 337 Introduction to Epidemiology (SBS/SCI 337)

This seminar course introduces the student to epidemiology as a utility for the establishment and maintenance of public health. In essence, epidemiology involves the observation and statistical analysis of the occurrence of health and disease in human populations. This science informs the practice of preventive health/disease control and the formulation of public health policy. Seminar topics will be drawn from both infectious and chronic disease epidemiology ranging from the historical plagues such as the Black Death to the modern plagues of AIDS, cancer, and obesity. Recommended Prerequisites: Introductory biology and statistics. Cr 3.

BPH 339 Topics in Public Health (MPH 539)

The course focuses on current topics in public health with an emphasis on special populations, diseases, or events. The course is designed to address public health concerns that are timely and relevant; topics will rotate periodically in response to student demand and/or emerging public health issues. Prior topics have included infectious disease, obesity, global health, child health, and substance use disorders. Cr 3.

BPH 450 Analysis of Public Health Data with Lab (MPH 550)

This course gives students practical experience using common public health datasets to identify public health problems and/or understand the risk factors associated with poor health behaviors or outcomes. Students will identify public health topics of interest and select from several approved datasets to address a research question. Working individually and in teams, students will use statistical analysis software to access, analyze, and interpret public health data. The course will also emphasize effective strategies for presenting and communicating about data. Prerequisite: Methods of Public Health Research (BPH 320). Cr 4, including statistical software lab.

BPH 499 Field Experience

The Field Experience offers experience-based learning in a healthcare or public health organization. Students work in community settings in organizations delivering and planning health or public health services on jointly developed projects or assignments based on the student's interests and the organization's needs. Sites include state or local public health agencies, hospitals, medical practices, clinics, special problem clinics and facilities, and environmental programs and services. In addition to 120 hours of direct work at the field experience site, students complete a written product that documents their learning. Prerequisite, senior standing and permission of the BSPH program. Cr 3.

Graduate Courses

MPH 500 Introduction to Public Health
This course introduces students to the field of public health by examining the history, vision, core functions, essential services, determinants, and activities of public health. The course focuses on application and integration of concepts and evidence to understand, prevent, and address current public health problems. Cr 3.

MPH 525 American Health Systems
Health-related activities represent more than one-sixth of the U.S. economy and include substantial investment of public and private resources. The goal of this course is for students to develop a critical understanding of the organization and financing of the American health care and public health systems. The course examines the factors that influence the health of individuals and populations; how health care services and health/public health systems are organized, financed, and governed; how these systems function; the relationships among consumers, public and private purchasers/payers, and providers; the market and policy environments affecting systems’ performance; and the outcomes of these activities including the health and well-being of citizens. Cr 3.

MPH 535 Introduction to Epidemiological Research
This course is intended to give students a basic foundation for the conduct and interpretation of population-based studies of the distribution, etiology, and control of disease. Topics include randomized experiments, non-randomized cohort studies, case-control studies, cross-sectional and ecological studies, screening of health populations, measures of effect, causal inference, sources of bias, and problems of measurement. Recent publications from the epidemiologic and general medical literature will be used to illustrate the application of the concepts to specific epidemiologic issues and to develop skills in interpreting quantitative information.  Cr 3.

MPH 539 Topics in Public Health
The course focuses on current topics in public health with an emphasis on special populations, diseases, or events. The course is designed to address public health concerns that are timely and relevant; topics will rotate periodically in response to student demand and/or emerging public health issues. Prior topics have included infectious disease, obesity, global health, child health, and substance use disorders. Cr 3.

MPH 545 Applied Biostatistical Analysis

This course is intended to give students a working understanding of the major types of biostatistical analyses commonly used in public health, laboratory sciences, and clinical research. Topics include estimation, hypothesis testing, non-parametric statistical models, correlation, t-tests, analysis of variance, categorical data analysis, linear regression, and use of SPSS software. Cr. 3

MPH 555 Environmental Health
This course provides students with an extensive introduction to scientific approaches to the investigation and modification of the effects of environmental factors on human health. Contributions of the fields of toxicology and epidemiology and the implications of research findings for policy and regulation are examined. Topic areas include toxic metals, pesticides and other organic chemicals, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, vector-borne diseases, pollution of air and water, occupational exposures, injuries, and the health effects of global warming. The roles of local, state, and federal governments in environmental health are critically evaluated, as are initiatives by non- governmental organizations.  Cr 3.

MPH 565 Social and Behavioral Health
The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of the social and behavioral determinants of health including a review of epidemiological data. The course addresses several prominent theories, models and frameworks used to help design, implement, and evaluate public health interventions. The application of models, theories and frameworks to specific public health efforts will be discussed. This course will help prepare students to review and synthesize public health literature, apply theory-driven approaches, and incorporate evidence and tools to inform public health practice. Cr 3.

MPH 575 Health Program Planning and Management
This course provides students with opportunities to develop skills in program planning, implementation, and management. Students will apply traditional and emerging planning and management concepts and frameworks to respond to identified priorities appropriate to the environment and organizational context within which they operate. Students will gain experience developing implementation plans, budgets, and applying management strategies to advance the achievement of desired outcomes. Cr 3.

MPH 580 Health Literacy and Communication
This online course provides students with knowledge, skills, and attitudes to recognize and improve health communications in public health, healthcare, and social service settings.  Topics covered in the course include:  patient-centered environments, health numeracy, oral health literacy, medical interpretation, informed consent, culture of safety and quality, adaptation of written health education materials and other written communication, cultural competence, effective communication, and the use of social media and web sites to advance health literacy. Students participate in field-based learning exercises and a workshop session with community partners in order to build and practice health literacy skills. Cr 3.

MPH 635 Health Law and Ethics
The course examines the complexities and relationships of common law and federal and state statutes, rules and administrative actions, as well as the powerful influences of politics, ethics and non-governmental forces that inform and influence contractual and legal relationships in the health law field. We will explore legal and ethical issues that permeate the public and private health care systems and also touch on economic issues that affect policies and laws. Students will scrutinize ethical and legal issues in health practice, administration and research, and analyze functions and interactions between courts, legislators and regulators. This course explores the inherent tension between promoting the public health and protecting the legal and ethical rights and interests of individuals. Cr 3.

MPH 650 Applied Public Health Research and Evaluation
The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the fundamentals of evaluation and research as applied to public health interventions. The course covers process, outcome, impact, and participatory evaluation, and frameworks and designs common in public health. Students will gain skills including: framing evaluation questions, developing abstracts, designing/presenting a poster presentation, creating data collection protocols, and drafting evaluation plans. Cr 3.

MPH 655 Public Health Practice
The goal of this course is to introduce students to fundamental skills used in everyday public health practice. The course focuses on public health core competencies that have been defined by the field. Cr 3.

MPH 660 Health Policy
Students gain an understanding of the political dynamics of health policy making and develop practical skills in policy analysis, policy communication, and health care public health advocacy. The course uses analytic models, case studies, guest speakers, readings, group discussion, and mock legislative testimony to promote a practical understanding of how ideas succeed—and fail—to become laws and regulations.  Cr 3.

MPH 665 Health Economics
This course introduces the student to the basic concepts and analytical tools of microeconomics and demonstrates the use of these concepts in analysis of public policy problems and designing appropriate responses. Students then apply these concepts and tools to understand health care drivers, the demand for and supply of health care and the role that markets and government play in resource allocation within our health care and public health systems. Cr 3.

MPH 670 Quality Improvement
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles and practice of quality improvement as implemented by providers of health care, systems of care, community health and public health agencies. Course content focuses on describing, measuring, improving, and evaluating the quality and safety of health services for consumers and populations. Students develop competencies in identifying opportunities for quality improvement, selecting and using quality improvement tools and methods, and presenting their work in a professional context. Cr 3.

MPH 677 Regression Models in Public Health
This course will familiarize students with the use of regression models for the analysis of epidemiologic and other public health data. Topics will include linear regression, logistic regression, log-binomial regression, and proportional hazard models. Students will work on individual projects using publicly available national datasets and will learn to use SAS software for conducting analyses. Cr 3.

MPH 681 Seminar in Public Health – Behavioral Health
This policy research seminar will take a closer look at public health responses to mental health needs, the challenges of mental health services in rural communities, the intersection of mental health and primary care and Maine's growing opioid addiction and substance abuse challenges. The class will include discussions with experts from Maine’s mental health care community. Cr 3.

MPH 682 Seminar in Public Health – Long-Term Care, Aging and Disability
This course provides an overview of the intersection of aging and public health through the lens of successful aging theory and the cultural constraints of ageism. We will review the aging demographic (who we are), the definitions of health function and status (how we age), the structure of the long term care system (who cares for us and what are the options), and the health assessment processes (who makes long term care decisions). The course also reviews the special topics of elder abuse and end-of-life planning and care. Cr 3.

MPH 683 Patient Safety
Preventable medical error is believed to be one of the leading causes of death and serious harm in the United States. This online course provides an interdisciplinary, cross-setting overview of patient safety principles, techniques, and best practices. Topics addressed in the online course include the epidemiology of medical error, human factors engineering, common types of errors in various healthcare settings, and the applied practice of error mitigation and patient safety strategies. Students also explore patient safety improvement techniques most appropriate to their profession or setting of care. Cr 3.

MPH 697 Independent Study
An independent study is a self-directed learning experience designed to develop a student’s ability to plan, organize, research, and report or to develop specific skills beyond the classroom activity. Independent studies are intended to provide exposure to concepts or topics that are not covered by any other course in the program.  An independent study must be related to students’ academic program and be monitored by a program faculty member. Independent studies may take the form of either a reading or a special project.  Prerequisite: instructor permission.  Cr 3.

MPH 698 Field Experience
The Field Experience offers experience-based learning in a healthcare or public health organization. Students work in community health settings in organizations delivering and planning health or public health services on jointly developed projects or on assignments based on the student’s interests and the organization’s needs. Sites include state or local public health agencies, hospitals, medical practices, clinics, special problem clinics and facilities, and environmental programs and services.  Prerequisite: instructor permission.  Cr 3.

MPH 699 Capstone
In this integrative, experience-based course, students work with a faculty capstone advisor to develop and complete a project to address a program evaluation need, a management, policy or practice problem, or research topic in their area of interest. Students develop and present a formal project proposal and present their final product upon completion.  Prerequisite: instructor permission.  Cr 3.