No two communities are identical, and North Dakota illustrates this well.
There are booming towns in the oil and gas fields, agricultural communities in the rich Red River Valley, American Indian reservations in the central plains, and frontier locales. These areas are also continually changing in multiple ways including population size, economic basis, and culture. How to meet the challenges of change and diversity within the Northern Plains is of particular importance to public health. Specializations provide integrative, creative, and practical learning experiences that foster intellectual growth, critical thinking, and practical engagement around issues of population health, particularly in rural areas.
Maintenance and improvement of population health depend upon research and evaluation that provide information about the kinds of health problems experienced by a population, their origins, and the effectiveness of remedies. Health organizations, both public and private, are charged with justifying their activities to their stakeholders with credible research on the outcomes of those activities. This specialization prepares students to produce convincing and scientifically sound information to answer questions about population health, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and provide the basis for improving health policies and programs. The course of study includes training in qualitative and quantitative research methods, policy analysis, advanced biostatistics, informatics, and communication through report writing and presentations. Health applications are emphasized, as are the concepts of efficiency, effectiveness, equity, and cultural competence.
The U.S. health care system is changing rapidly as a result of public and private efforts to optimize performance and achieve the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's (IHI) Triple Aim of improving quality and patient satisfaction, improving population health and decreasing costs. With the passing of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, the U.S. made great strides toward achieving universal access to care. However, comparing system efficiencies and health outcomes across several high-income countries demonstrates the need for continued efforts to derive greater value for the resources invested in the U.S. health care sector. Targeted initiatives incorporating alternative payment models, such as the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organizations, have demonstrated measurable impacts toward achieving the IHI's Triple Aim.
This specialization prepares students with skills necessary to improve health care delivery in both rural and urban areas. Students gain skills needed to manage health delivery systems effectively and efficiently, analyze health policies, and communicate successfully to effect change in health policy and management.
The Indigenous Health MPH is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of determinants of Indigenous health and solutions to health disparities. Students will examine Indigenous populations, histories, cultures, societies, traditional healing systems, food sources, patterns and impact of colonization, and health inequity. Students will also evaluate the impact of historical and ongoing traumas associated with colonization and colonialism, explore Indigenous concepts of health and healing, and will synthesize new approaches of moving toward health equity in a culturally relevant manner. Indigenous populations include American Indian/Alaska Native, Canadian First Nations, Inuit, Sami, Aboriginal Australian, Maori, Ainu, and Pacific Islanders, among others.