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MPH Students Participate in Health Education Advocacy Summit

02/22/14

On February 22‐24, eight students from the Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health Master of Public Health (MPH) program participated in the 17th Annual Health Education Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. The Summit serves to increase the engagement of public health education professionals and students in advocating for a common health education agenda at the national, state and local levels. It was hosted by the Coalition of National Health Education Organizations (CNHEO) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).

Over the past several years, there has been a greater emphasis on policy and advocacy in graduate public health education. Jefferson’s MPH program is one of the few programs in the country that embeds the Summit into the course curriculum. Students meet with the health legislative aides to their Congressional representatives for their home districts. This experience, which includes researching policies and developing a relationship with their federal representatives, has become an invaluable component of their academic and professional work.

“[The experience at the Advocacy Summit] brought to reality what we had been studying in class,” a student said. “It made me change my concept that politics is something you cannot change.” 

The three‐day Summit this year focused on three areas of public health education: the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the CDC Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; and Health Education and Physical Education as Core Subjects. Rob Simmons, DrPH, Associate Professor and Program Director of the Public Health program at Jefferson and Assistant Professor Marty Romney, BSN, MS, JD, MPH who co‐teach the Public Health Policy and Advocacy course, presented at the Summit and helped the students prepare for their Capitol Hill visits.

“Students gain real world application of what they have learned in the classroom,” said Simmons. “Our students will continue to remember the experience and, as the opportunity presents itself in the future to communicate with policy makers on key public health topics of interest, they will be more confident and competent public health leaders and advocates.”

“The Summit also provides the opportunity for students to experience our legal system in action, to exercise their Constitutional First Amendment rights to voice their opinions to their legislators and to advocate for the population’s health,” said Romney.