Foundational Competencies

MPH & DrPH Concentration Competencies

What are CEPH expectations for individual MPH program core competencies, in terms of tracking, reporting and evaluation?

The foundational competencies in Criterion D2 replace your program’s core competencies. If you think something is missing from this set that is important within your program, you may include it in your concentration-specific set (if it expands on/enhances a foundational competency or relates to the program’s mission and area of concentration).

I’m not that familiar with systems thinking tools. How do I teach and assess the MPH foundational competency “Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue”?

You may find the article “The application of systems thinking in health: why use systems thinking?” helpful to better understand systems thinking tools, which may also include methods and theories. The article includes a table that identifies some tools used within this field and provides references to more detailed information about these tools.

We receive many phone calls each day with specific questions about various topics related to the new criteria. While we are not experts in any of these areas, we sometimes find resources that we think might point stakeholders in the right direction. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

Change Management

  • Kotter, J.P. (2012). Leading change. Boston:Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Heath, C. & Health, D. (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. New York: Broadway Books.

Systems Thinking Tools & Systems Theory

  • Peters, D.H. (2014). The application of systems thinking in health: Why use systems thinking? Health Research Policy and Systems, 12, 51. doi:10.1186/1478-4505-12-51
  • (this article has some very good references)
  • Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
  • Rowitz, L. (2014) Public health leadership: Putting principles into practice. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett.
    Chapter 4 – A systems and complexity perspective

This short video with Peter Senge may also provide a helpful introduction to systems thinking.

How can we incorporate interprofessional education (IPE) into the curriculum?

In public health, interprofessional is defined as working with professions outside the professional disciplines of public health. In other words, it is not epidemiologists collaborating with public health policy professionals but epidemiologists collaborating with other professions that have their own distinct identities and specialty knowledge. For example, other professions may include physicians, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. However, in public health collaboration goes far beyond the health sciences and into professions like education, food science, urban planning, public administration, engineering, housing authorities, police departments and beyond. It is important for public health professionals to understand the roles, specialty knowledge and skills of relevant professionals and how they contribute to overall public health goals. Of course, you cannot address every profession or every scenario in class, but teaching with as a broad a perspective as possible is important.

The guiding framework for this competency came from the IPEC Competencies. As you can see, this document prescribes four interprofessional competencies to be addressed in all health professions educational programs. They are (along with the plain language interpretation of each competency):

1. Work with individuals of other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values. (Maintain mutual respect and shared values)
2. Use the knowledge of one’s own role and those of other professions to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of patients and to promote and advance the health of populations. (Know your role and the role of other professionals)
3. Communicate with patients, families, communities, and professionals in health and other fields in a responsive and responsible manner that supports a team approach to the promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of disease. (Communicate with other professions)
4. Apply relationship-building values and the principles of team dynamics to perform effectively in different team roles to plan, deliver, and evaluate patient/population centered care and population health programs and policies that are safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable. (Use all of the above in interprofessional teams to accomplish goals)

*Please note that this document has sub-competencies, but CEPH will not have expectations to that level. Use them to help you further understand the main competency.

It is clear that in order to accomplish the CEPH competency of “Perform effectively in interprofessional teams,” faculty will surely need to address the attitude of mutual respect and maintaining a focus on shared values and goals, the roles of other professionals in solving public health problems, methods of communicating with other professionals in ways that they understand, and, finally putting it all together to perform well on an interprofessional team.

For additional resources and ideas, you can also visit The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. The Resource Center is a digital library of interprofessional practice and education-related content.

In addition to mapping the DrPH foundational competencies with courses (and supporting syllabi), should we map the MPH foundational competencies to our learning opportunities for DrPH students?

No, you do not need to map the MPH foundational competencies for the DrPH degree. You should map:

  • D1 (Foundational Knowledge) for the MPH & DrPH
  • D2 (MPH Foundational Competencies) for the MPH only
  • D3 (DrPH Foundational Competencies) for the DrPH only
Some of the foundational competencies include multiple components, such as qualitative and quantitative data or written and oral communication. Do we need to identify a single assessment opportunity that addresses every component?

Not necessarily. If a single assessment addresses all components, then that is sufficient. However, if students need to complete multiple activities to fully demonstrate all aspects of the competency, then multiple activities should be included.

How much detail should we include in the third column of Template D2-2? Is narrative ok?

It is often helpful to be descriptive when identifying the specific assessment opportunity. Reviewers must be able to validate that the opportunity listed does appropriately relate to the competency. Syllabi should also clearly identify where and how each competency is assessed; if syllabi do not provide this level of detail (eg, when an exam serves as the assessment), you’ll need to provide a copy of the assignment/exam.

Does a generalist degree still require concentration-specific competencies?

Yes! For accreditation purposes, a generalist degree counts as a concentration. Each concentration or generalist degree must define at least five distinct competencies in addition to the foundational competencies. These distinct competencies may expand on or enhance the foundational competencies, but must articulate depth or enhancement for all concentrations, including the generalist degree. Click here for some additional, quick TA on concentration competencies.

Is it OK to map a competency to the applied learning experience and/or the integrative learning experience only?

In most cases, no. Students should be assessed on each foundational and concentration competency through didactic coursework. Each competency has a theoretical and/or practical framework that underpins the skill, and we expect students to receive instruction about these concepts and practice the competency in more standardized settings before applying or integrating specific competencies during complex experiences such as the APE or ILE.

We plan to prepare our students for the CHES/MCHES credential and want to use NCHEC’s competencies as the concentration competencies. How do we do this?

You may either use 1) the seven areas of responsibility as concentration competencies or 2) the 35 competencies (eg, 1.1, 1.2, etc.) within each area of responsibility as concentration competencies required in Criterion D4. Schools and programs should not use the NCHEC sub-competencies (eg, 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, etc.) as concentration competencies.The sub-competencies within each area provide helpful guidance for planning the learning objectives in individual courses; however, they are too granular to serve as the concentration competencies themselves.