by Pete Janny, Asst. Sports Editor
Come fall 2020, Manhattan College will offer a Public Health major in place of the pre-existing Allied Health major.
A proposal was approved by the College Curriculum Community regarding the creation of a Public Health major designed to help students find a career in the Public Health industry. This past August the college received accreditation by New York State to implement this program.
Students currently enrolled in the Allied Health program will have the luxury of sticking with that major until they graduate. They may also switch to the Public Health program if that’s what they feel best aligns with their career goals. However, students will no longer be able to transfer into the Allied Health program come the Fall 2020 semester.
The School of Education & Health is prepared to make sure that student needs will be met, particularly the needs of Allied Health Majors who will be finishing up their coursework in a program that will reach extinction in a few years.
“Students who are Allied Health majors can change to public health or we will counsel those who want PT individually,” Karen Nicholson, Dean of the School of Education & Health, said. “None of the students will suffer. They aren’t going to lose any credits.”
In addition, the students will have faculty support. Dr. Tekeyah Sears, who currently serves as the director of the Allied Health Program, will also be assuming the role of the director of the Public Health Program. Sears will work individually with students to support them during this time of transition for the School of Education and Health.
According to Nicholson, the impetus for inaugurating a Public Health major was because of the prevalence of public health issues in the world today. These issues will need to be monitored and addressed by those working jobs in the Public Health industry.
“We do regular scans of the environment to see what are growth fields or what are potential new opportunities for us,” Nicholson said. “To do this we use a company called Hanover and this company has identified public health as one of the areas that looks like a growth area going forward.”
Public health’s irrefutable pertinence to a wide range of disciplines is another justification for this big change.
“The bottom line is that Public Health aligns with the School of Education and Health and other programs here at the College and prepares them for more positions out there,” Nicholson said.
Unbeknownst to many, there is a distinction between Allied Health and Public Health. Initially, even Nicholson herself had trouble identifying a fundamental difference between the areas.
“The term is ‘Allied Health’ is fairly outdated,” Nicholson said. “The students in that program take 54 science credits so half of the program is science and the other half of their course load is made up of core humanity classes. Allied Health has two tracks which are Health Care administration and a general science option for things like Physical Therapy. Health Care administration will also be in public health.”
One clear blemish with respect to the Allied Health major was its redundancy.
“These Allied Health students receive the same offerings that are other programs on campus offer,” Nicholson said. “There are things that are somewhat redundant. For example, Kinesiology also has great success in getting students into Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs.”
This lack of specialization attached to the Allied Health program is also something Rani Roy, Assistant Vice President for Student and Faculty Development, appears to be concerned about.
“Just like Allied Health, Biochemistry has also been very successful in sending students to different types of health programs for graduate school,” Roy said.
Nicholson expects students in this public health program to have their work cut of for them in terms of navigating its heavy course load. These lofty responsibilities that await the students are something that excites Nicholson because of how well they will prepare students for the real world.
“The curriculum is going to be very rigorous. Future public health majors will have to go out and conduct their own research so that they know they can take that to work in public policy and healthcare,” Nicholson said. “Or they can do the administration track where they learn about different administration tasks and public policy strategies.”
For junior Shanice Lyle, the prioritization of Public Health over Allied Health is not something that bothers her. Instead, she credits the school for trying to find a new way to further enhance its academic stature. Lyle is excited to maintain her status as an Allied Health moving forward, while embracing the development of the public health major.
“I see the addition of a public health program as a positive change and enhancement,” Lyles said. “There is room for growth. Those currently in the Allied Health major, including myself, will still be able to complete the program.”
Having already developed a close relationship with Sears, Lyles is confident her advisor will go above and beyond to make sure the needs of every student are satisfied.
“She is an excellent program advisor and will be sure to assist anyone who is interested in the Public Health program as well as her current Allied Health students,” Lyles said. “She already works with us to edit our schedules as much as possible to fit our career goals and will continue to do so.”