EPID 600 - Introduction to Public Health Practice - Summer 2017

Course Objectives

Before doing anything else, bookmark this URL http://www.commed.vcu.edu/IntroPH/Lectures.htm . This is the web page that has the syllabus for the course and the links to the weekly course materials.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

This course addresses the following MPH competencies:

Environmental Health
ENV3 Describe federal and state regulatory programs, guidelines and authorities that control environmental health issues. (ASPH B.3)



Identify key sources of data for epidemiologic purposes. (ASPH C.1)


Apply basic terms and definitions of epidemiology in terms of magnitude, person, time, and place. (ASPH C.3, C.6)

Health Policy


Identify the main components and issues of the organization, financing, access and delivery of health services and public health systems in the US and globally. (ASPH D.1).

Social & Behavioral Health

SBS2 Identify the causes of social and behavioral factors that affect health of individuals and populations. (ASPH E.2)
SBS3 Describe steps and procedures for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs, policies and interventions. (ASPH E.5)
Program Planning
PPL1 Differentiate among goals, measurable objectives, related activities, and expected outcomes for a public health program. (ASPH K.5)
VCU Program Specific Competencies


Discuss the effect of physical and social environment on health outcomes during the life course.

Key Words

Public Health, Goals, Objectives, Health Care System, Content of Public Health, Core Content, Expanded Content, Resources. Public Health Law, Public Health Ethics.

Terms important to epidemiology used in this course: Incidence, Prevalence. Denominator Data, Sensitivity and Specificity, abut which you can find information in Chapters 5 & 7 in Schneider's Textbook


The required readings for the Introduction to Public Health practice are found in:
Introduction to Public Health by Mary Jane Schneider, 4th edition. Published by Jones an Bartlett in 2013, or the 5th edn. published in March 2016. The books are available at the Medical Campus bookstores , or Amazon.com or direct from the publisher.
Local Health Department Practice: CMGB updated 2017 , selected chapters identified for each week's discussion (other than week 1).The links in the index link to internet, PDF version hyperlinks do not work with a PDF document. This course focuses activities to keep the public health the and not on activities for individuals which are the responsibility of primary care physicians for the most part.

Strongly recommended: The Future of Public Health (available on-line - see below), published by Institute of Medicine in 1988, and 'The Future of the Public's Health in the 21st Century', Appropriate chapters in these readings should be scanned before each class.

A useful book, not required for this course but which will help if you have not decided your future public health career track.
Public Health in Action by Jan K, Carney ISBN13 - 978-0 -7637 - 3447-3, 2006 AD and focuses on PH philosophy with recent examples from local health departments in the North East.

Much of the material provided in the EPID-600 course will be found in Dr. Buttery's essays on the "Local Health Department" which are updated annually. The original ones were the basis for his 'Handbook for Health Directors' published by Oxford University Press in 1990.  That material is now out of date. Click Here for these essays

A second useful book for those planning a future in a health department is "Essentials of Public Health Management" 3rd Edition by Fallon LF jr. and Zgodzinski ER, also Published by Jones and Bartlett in 2013.

Other supplementary readings may be recommended by special guest lecturers, or experts on specific topics, designed to augment sessions presented by the course director. Students are also advised to use/bookmark VCU's E_Journal Search Page to become familiar with it.
Public Health - Career Choices that make a Difference Bernard J Turnock. ISBN 13-978-0-7637-3790-0. 2006 AD :
The American Journal of Public Health (On Line)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (On-Line)
Health Affairs (0n-line)
British Medical Journal (On-Line)

The following references may be consulted during the course:
US Preventive Service Task Force: Clinical Guidelines These guidelines provide the current thinking epidemiological data for preventive practices.
Control of Communicable Disease in Man.  Ed: David L. Heymann, 8th Ed. 2000, APHA ISBN: 0-87553-034-6
Students are expected to become familiar with current public health issues, such as

prevention of violence
emerging infections of public health interest such as SARS, and monkeypox
chronic diseases

Links and web pages: The many resources used in this online course may point to webpages where addresses are changed weekly or monthly and links may have unintended results. If any link does not seem to be correct or you get a "page not found" error please let me know immediately so I can either correct the link or find substitute information.


For students who are not currently in the MPH program, and have not taken the Epi 1 and Stat 1 course please review the following slide shows from the supercourse (See below) This is a comprehensive list ( Used for my chronic disease course) and you need to focus on only a few terms: Incidence, Prevalence, sensitivity, specificity, rates, and denominator data.

Students should visit the MMWR Weekly Report and click on the FREE MMWR subscription.   This will bring you the MMWR each week as an e-mail attachment.  Provided you have set your computer up as recommended in the administration section of the introduction, you will be able to read the MMWR in PDF format.  You should read this each week and be prepared to use the material in class, in quizzes, discussions and examination answers, and to enhance class material.
        Prior to each class visit Healthy People 2010 and HP2020 and review the criteria related to the evening's topics by clicking on the Leading Indicators .  You may want to visit HP 2000 and see how the criteria have changed since 1990.  Think about why they have changed.  What data has been used to develop indicators? Now look at Healthy People 2020 and see if the earlier goals have been modified further. Consider why this may have happened.

You should also visit the National Academy of Sciences publication list to look at The Future of Public Health(1988) and consider whether the Recommendations of this 1988 text are currently being implemented, or why they are not yet implemented.  What differences can you find in the above reference to the "PH in the 21st century".  Be prepared to discuss these issues in your weekly essays. Finally from the University of Pittsburgh School Public Health are the Power Point Slide sets from the Supercourse, In addition to the selected epidemiology slides there are more than 3400 PowerPoint slide sets on PH topics from around the world which you may wish to dip into..

For those student who have never had to deal with the US Health care system I have provided a non credit introduction which should help you with both this Course and Health Policy courses

Students should read a daily regional newspaper of general circulation (e.g. Richmond Times Dispatch, Washington Post, New York Times) and at least one weekly news magazine such as US News & World Report or Newsweek. Students will also find useful information for the course by accessing the Internet and using a search engine.

Use the BLACKBOARD Discussion web to discuss readings from the MMWR and Healthy People 2010, to comment on faculty presentations, and to answer questions posed during each week's presentations. A link to the discussion web will be found on the Blackboard discussion page for each week's presentation.


This course is designed to provide the student with general knowledge of the scope and content of public health practice, and its relation to health care services. Note: each week you have 7 days in which to answer the quiz and discussion board issues for the associated weekly topic. The weekly deadline for submission of both discussions and assignments is no later than Sunday Midnight of the week for the topic.

Each 7 week period period will be allocated 12.5 point per half semester. There are 2-3 discussion questions for each week.  Cutting and pasting an answer from an encyclopedia or newspaper is not acceptable.  Each question on the Discussion Board (3 most weeks) requires a minimum of 200 words for an acceptable answer.  The quality of answers may result in an award of extra  points for each period.  The extra points are awarded for exceptional use of the internet in finding answers to questions, or useful new URLs or a combination of these..

Quizzes (Blackboard assignments): (12.5 points per half semester - 25 points for semester)
Each week is associated with a quiz/assignment found on the course Blackboard.  You may attempt the quiz twice to show that you know where your first attempt was incorrect, but the grade for a repeated attempt will be no more than 90%.

Mid term and Final examinations will assess the student's ability to describe the scope and content of public health practice in written form. The final Summary Grade will be a standard letter grade summing the results of mid term, and final written exams, plus the quizzes and discussions. [Note about grading. Although the each question is assessed a letter grade, the letter is determined by first grading each answer on a 100 point scale [92-100=A, 81-91=B, 71-80=C,  <71 =D/Fail]  The Department will also provide forms for you to evaluate the course at the end of the course

Mid Term Examination: (15 points) Submit (e-mail) your answer.   This examination will be an open book examination for which the student will be required to complete ONE essay of no less than 850 words (minimum) .

Final Examination: (35% points) Submit (e-mail) your answer.
The final exam counts for 35% on the semester grade.  This examination will also be an open book examination for which the student will be required to complete two(2) approximately 850 word (minimum) essays, from 4-5 topics and will be available to the students at the next to last session of the course.  The essays should be presented as an e-mail attachment sent to the course director at chrisbuttery07@gmail.com

Guide to answering written examination questions.  Carefully review the Keywords and Concepts for the topics.  Additional points are given for using material provided in the lectures, readings and from Web Research.  This additional review is likely to lead to an "A" for the question answered.

Special suggestions

Because this is an on-line course I am providing additional recommendations for achieving a high score. You do not have the opportunity to question the various faculty who have contributed to the course directly, as you would in a classroom, although many are responsive to e-mails. It is important that you pay special attention to the quizzes and weekly discussion boards, as well as the mid-term and final examinations.
The only way I can decide how well you understand the material provided is by your performance on the weekly discussion board (Blackboard Forum) and quiz.
For the quizzes you are allowed two (2) attempts to provide a correct set of answers. If you get all the questions correct on the first attempt you get 100% for a quiz. If you need two attempts to get everything correct you get no more than 90%. Note that all attempts at quizzes are time stamped and recorded. Some of the quizzes may require you to submit text. The text answers are graded when I look at the quiz, so when you examine your grade after completing a quiz  you will not see the full results until I have graded the text answers.
For the weekly discussion boards I will expect you to have researched your answers and provide reasons for them. While you can copy and insert quotes from part of a web page from an agency such as the CDC, NIH or IOM you must explain why you selected the quoted material. I expect a question on the discussion board (there are usually 2 or three questions each week) to be no less than 200 words. I am impressed with conciseness and relevance for an answer. In others words use the least words you need that will show me that you reviewed and understood the material provided.

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