The University Record, July 22, 2002

Three degree programs approved

  • Health psych degree now available at U-M–Dearborn
  • Regents approve programs in science ed and epidemiology

    Health psych degree now available at U-M–Dearborn

    By Terry Gallagher
    U-M–Dearborn Public Relations

    The U-M–Dearborn will launch a new Master of Science degree program focusing on health psychology, to meet the needs of physicians, nurses, public health officials and other healthcare workers, as well as other non-health professionals.

    The new degree program, which was approved by the U-M Regents at their July meeting, will begin offering classes this fall.

    “To treat patients most effectively, medical professionals need an education that extends beyond traditional biomedicine and looks at the social and psychological factors in illness and treatment,” according to Richard Straub, professor of psychology at UM–Dearborn, who was instrumental in developing the program.

    “This new degree program will allow students to look at issues including the kinds of medical treatment people seek and get, how patients handle illness, why some people don’t follow medical advice and the most effective ways to control pain or change poor health habits,” Straub says.

    He says that graduates of the program will be better able to work within the health care system to develop strategies to foster social and physical well-being among patients.

    “They may help medical personnel understand the psychological problems that arise from the pain and stress of illness,” Straub says. “They also may work in the public health system to develop responses to medical issues affecting a large segment of society, like teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, smoking, risky sexual behaviors, lack of exercise and poor diet.”

    Straub developed the program in consultation with clinical faculty at Henry Ford Health System’s medical residency training program who helped define relevant areas in the behavioral sciences.

    The program also draws on existing strengths of U-M–Dearborn, Straub says. The campus has long had an undergraduate program in health policy studies, and faculty members have achieved national recognition in areas including alternative medicine, social and cultural factors in human growth and development, family violence and other topics. Straub is the author of a widely used college textbook on health psychology.

    “This campus has special strengths in this field, and our region has world-class health care facilities,” Straub notes. “But we also have a population that suffers from serious and chronic medical issues, many of them linked to life-style variables and environmental factors.”

    Enrollment in the program is likely to draw heavily from health-care professionals, including medical residents. High school science teachers are another potential audience for the program. “Because the core curriculum is strongly grounded in the foundations and methodology of the behavioral sciences, non-health professionals working in the field of psychology will benefit as well,” Straub says.

    Students will be able to pursue the degree on a part-time basis, and courses will be primarily offered during the late afternoon and evening to meet the needs of working professionals. In addition, a substantial number of courses will be available through distance-learning technologies, allowing more flexibility for students.

    Regents approve programs in science ed and epidemiology

    Two additional programs were approved by regents at their July meeting.

    A master’s degree program in science education was approved for U-M–Dearborn. The program is intended to serve the needs of professionals who possess either an elementary or secondary teaching certificate. It will include two tracks: one for K-8 teachers with 14 or fewer credits in science and one for 7-12 grade teachers with B.S. or B.A. degrees in a science discipline. The program is designed to emphasize either the environmental aspects of biology, chemistry or geology, or to provide a more broadly focused approach including courses from each science discipline.

    A certificate program in epidemiology, offered by the School of Public Health, was approved. The Department of Epidemiology hosts an annual graduate summer session each year during which some 300 participants received intensive instruction in principles, methods and applications of epidemiology. The School of Public Health can now offer a certificate of academic competencies to the graduate students in public health, physicians and other health professionals who participate in the program.