The University of Newcastle, Australia

Award for excellence in public health teaching

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A flagship course at the University of Newcastle has been recognised at the CAPHIA 2014 awards for Excellence and Innovation in Public Health Teaching.

CAPHIA award

The School of Medicine and Public Health coordinates and teaches 11 undergraduate public health courses to more than 1,350 students each year across three different campuses at UON with the aim of broadening the scope to include all undergraduate students.

The team, comprising Drs Sue Outram, Marita Lynagh, Natalie Johnson, Conor Gilligan and Kate Dundas and Lorraine Paras received a unanimous Highly Commended from the selection panel in a very competitive field.

The Institute of Medicine in the US recommends that 'all undergraduates should have access to education in public health' with the premise that we not only have an educated public health workforce, but also an educated population.

The flagship course, titled Introduction to Population Health and Health Promotion, has been taught since 2004 with the aim of developing leaders who are able to engage their communities and build healthy and sustainable societies.

This course is compulsory for students enrolled in health science degree programs, and is an elective for students from the faculties of Education and Arts, Engineering and Built Environment, Business and Law and Science and Information Technology.

However, large numbers of students from Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education programs have also competed this course, or one of 10 other closely-related public health courses, as an elective.

The team aims to promote public health knowledge and skills across a diverse student body. These courses can involve controversial and sensitive issues such as inequality and disadvantage - which makes teaching a challenge.

The experience of the team has led to a web-based resource to increase the capacity and broaden the scope of the course.

These technological advances have increased the capacity of other academic staff and given them the confidence and ability to teach about these diverse issues.

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