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A Renewed Focus on Epidemiology Education 

Epidemiology is evolving in its concepts and principles. As the scientific foundation of public health, epidemiology education should be continually examined to ensure that learners receive appropriate training.

“It is particularly important for learners at the doctoral level so that they can become competent epidemiologists upon graduation, ready to join the public health workforce and meaningfully contribute to the public’s health,” said WayWay M. Hlaing, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., M.S., professor at the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

Dr. Hlaing conducted a project that collected doctoral-level epidemiology competencies from relevant leaders and directors of Ph.D. in epidemiology programs from accredited schools and programs of public health, as well as other pertinent information. The project was funded by the Leslie & Loretta Copeland Foundation.

To conduct the project, a list of contact information of potential survey participants was compiled, and relevant information was extracted from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) database regarding institutions conferring Ph.D. degrees in epidemiology. Faculty from the University of Miami, such as Soyeon Ahn, Ph.D., as well as external consultants, such as Ross Brownson, Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, and Dean Jonathan Samet, M.D., M.S., from the University of Colorado in Denver, aided Dr. Hlaing in the project. A Master of Public Health graduate assistant was also hired and trained in Qualtrics for the development of a survey instrument for the project. The student was also trained on data codebook development, entry, and management. 

The survey was launched from May 2019 to July 2019 and Dr. Hlaing employed several strategies to increase participation among invited and eligible respondents. She and the team also corresponded with respondents during the launch of the survey, as well as when survey participation was completed. The data management and analysis of the survey have been completed.

Once the results are disseminated in a peer-reviewed journal, such as the American Journal of Epidemiology, it will be shared with stakeholders, such as representatives from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The results will be of value to those who are in charge of accrediting schools and programs of public health, such as CEPH.

Dr. Hlaing was invited to contribute to the International Conference on Teaching Epidemiology at the University of Zurich in 2020, where she will also share the results with an international workgroup of epidemiologists who are working on the competencies for the post-doctoral trainees in epidemiology.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on January 21, 2020