During this past Spring 2009, I taught another semester of my Ethnic Health and Health Disparities MPH 6008 course for graduate students in the Department of Public Health at ECU and at other universities in the state. Since I transitioned this course like my other graduate courses to online last year, I have thoroughly enjoyed another way to teach this course. Using the online blackboard tools and software, I have found that teaching Ethnic Health & Health Disparities course a truly rewarding experience because my students and I can learn so much more with incorporating the new technologies within our course activities.
For those who are interested in this course, here are the major course objectives:
1. Identify and assess the major health issues associated with specific ethnic and health disparity populations in the United States.
2. Describe ethnic health and health disparity issues, including its unique and important features.
3. Apply principles and strategies derived from public health and medical anthropology toward planning, implementing and evaluating specific ethnic health and health disparities intervention programs.
During the spring semester, students receive their lectures via podcast and webcam format. The podcast and webcam lectures highlights the major key points from the designated readings from each week. Students also receive a set of discussion board questions each week along with the opportunity to participate in our weekly, topic oriented chat sessions usually in the early evening. If students are not able to attend, then all chat sessions are recorded so that every student can review our weekly chat sessions. The advantages of this online technology allows many students to engage in all types of interaction whether in the structured format of the discussion board session or the free-flowing, semi-structured format of the chat room sessions. In either case, students truly get into the specific ethnic and health disparity topics of the week. Students also receive special video links in which they can view short documentary films on specific ethnic and health disparity topics each week.
Along with the weekly activities, students are also required to complete a fieldwork project or a proposed fieldwork project. I think that these fieldwork projects captures the practical, public health and cultural health focus of this course. Students investigate and solve real ethnic health and health disparity issues that they want to do — not what I want. Thus this course (like all of my courses), is student driven and focused. By the end, if the student is truly motivated, interested and passionate about their topic, it shows in their final fieldwork project or proposal. After teaching for over 20 years, I can easily tell.
Now that I have been teaching this course for 4 years (originally in the traditional face-to-face format) and recognizing that it is still one of most unique courses in all of the U.S. colleges and universities, I get thoroughly delighted to know that all of my students are breaking new ground in solving ethnic and health disparity issues in eastern North Carolina and the United States. That’s how important this class is today and in the future for all those who will be working in a health or medical related field in the near future.
Here is a list of some of the projects completed by students this Spring 2009 semester:
The Lack of Cultural Competency as an Inhibitor of Health in Refugee Populations in North Carolina
Culturally Competent Birthing Solutions
Why is Glaucoma Prevalent in African Americans and Is Age a Factor?
How African American Women Use Multiple Strategies to Cope with Life Stresses
Fieldwork Project on a HIV/AIDS Outreach Program
A Perspective on HIV/AIDS Among a Select Group of African American Men
Ethnic and Health Disparities Due to Health Literacy: Spotlight on Hispanic Women of Reproductive Age
Targeting Breast Cancer among African American Women in Nash County
Obesity Among African Americans
Educating the State of North Carolina About the Effects of an Unhealthy Lifestyle
Pediactric Oral Health Practices of Caucasian and Latina Women in Pitt County, North Carolina
Developing New Strategies to Improve Physical Activity among Low Socioeconomic Status (SES) Groups
African American Women Health Disparities: A Look at Awareness
African American Adolescent Females & Body Image
Childhood Obesity; A Closer Look
As you can see, these fieldwork projects/proposals were phenomenial, investigative, insightful, detailed and practical all within a culturally competent approach. Although it is challenging on every student to investigate another group’s health issues and to see the world from another person’s perspective, the students in all of my ethnic health and health disparity classes (and all of my classes) achieve this outcome! That’s the major goal and outcome of this course each and every time that I teach it.