Touro University Public Health Students Complete Field Studies

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Assist agencies in Ethiopia and Vallejo.

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Touro University’s master in public health (MPH) program prepares health professionals to improve the health of the world. The program offers two distinctive tracks: community health and global health. As part of their educational training, students complete field studies locally and at international destinations to learn public health skills and understand the challenges that confront public health practitioners in developing countries. Touro University is the first college in the nation to offer a joint masters in physician assistant and public health.

Touro University offers a masters degree in public health as well as dual and joint degrees and a graduate certificate. To leran more about these programs, plan to attend Touro University-California’s free open house on Thursday, May 10th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Farragut Inn, 1750 Club Drive, Mare Island in Vallejo. Light refreshments will be served.

Current students, staff and faculty will be available to answer questions. Admissions and financial aid information, and campus tours will be available. For information, call 888-652-7580 or visit For directions to the campus, visit

Jimma, Ethiopia

In January, thirteen students working towards a double masters in physician assistant and public health spent a month working with Jimma University Hospital in Ethiopia. The students conducted their field studies in a health center located at Assendabo approximately 50 km from Jimma. They teamed up with Jimma University medical, nursing and other health science students under the supervision of International Health Program director Dr. Eiman Mahmoud, MD, MPH.

“I worked with tuberculosis patients to evaluate the effectiveness of the TB program. What I found was that the patients received medication to treat their TB, but very little education about how to prevent it,” stated Ryan Garso. “Some of the local people walked 2 to 3 hours to be treated at the clinic. We worked with the staff to develop a stronger educational component, but the time they have with patients is limited so that makes education difficult.”

Ryan, one of the thirteen students who are completing joint MSPAS/MPH degrees, will graduate in spring 2008. He plans to focus on pediatrics as a career and selected Touro University’s program because of the joint physician assistant and public health degree. “This was definitely a worthwhile experience that gave me a global perspective on the delivery of health care from a public health viewpoint. It showed me the diverse challenges that local health providers face and how to conduct yourself in a culturally appropriate manner.”

The students shared dormitory-style modest accommodations with Jimma University students who they teamed with to complete their research. Well water was brought to them on donkeys for personal hygiene and cooking, and they traveled to Jimma on weekends where they experienced the local culture and food.

Bay Area

Bert Jacobo is working towards a joint MSPAS/MPH degree with a focus on community health. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology at San Diego State University. Bert recently spent six weeks working with the Youth Project Manager and Grants Manager at Fighting Back Partnership in Vallejo to complete his local field study experience. He assisted in the development of a public health section grants to continue funding from the Dept. of Health and Human Services to keep Vallejo middle school drug-free. He also worked with the Family and Schools Together (FAST) advocacy program to recruit youth advocates and team partners.

“My goal is to work with youth to eliminate the use of drugs and mentor them to build a better life. I chose Touro’s program because it combines clinical knowledge with community health. My internship with a non profit was extremely valuable to allow me to put into practice the knowledge and training I received in my classroom studies. The professors have a tremendous amount of experience that they share with us,” stated Bert.

The students are currently completing clinical training as various locations as part of their educational experience. Gayle Cummings, MPH, faculty and field study coordinator, works with the students to place them at field study sites which match their interest. “I work with our students to match their interests with available projects and preceptors. Currently, we have 45 California-based preceptors for our local public health sites and one international project location, with plans for expansion,” stated Gayle.

“What I experienced and learned in Ethiopia is applicable to any population and will provide me with a better understanding and appreciation of the needs of patients,” commented Julia. “I would recommend it to anyone.”

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Nancy Hopkins

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