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Public Health Rep. 2008 Sep-Oct; 123(5): 553–554.
PMCID: PMC2496951

ADOPTING COMPETENCIES FOR A GRADUATE SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN EPIDEMIOLOGY

I applaud Hagopian et al.1 for being among the first to describe, in detail, their process for developing curriculum competencies in global health. Their article will be extremely helpful to other public health schools and programs in creating not just global health competencies, but competencies in other academic areas as well. The New York Medical College School of Public Health used similar methods to adopt competencies for our master of public health program in epidemiology.

First, we constructed a master list of candidate competencies (n=31), suggested by other public health schools and programs, the Association of Schools of Public Health, and the Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists.2,3 Second, we distributed a form via e-mail to full-time and part-time epidemiology faculty members, asking them to rate each candidate competency on a scale of one (not important) to five (very important). Third, after the forms were returned, we computed a mean score for each candidate competency. Finally, full-time faculty members reviewed and discussed candidate competencies with the highest mean scores and formally adopted a subset (n=10) of those candidate competencies. Full-time faculty members also considered for adoption a few new candidate competencies suggested by the raters as they returned the forms. The final list of selected competencies is now displayed in the school's catalogue, on the school's website, and in every epidemiology course syllabus.

I offer one suggestion to others who are about to launch a similar effort. Consider contextualizing each candidate competency with a brief vignette or sample test items.4 This should shed light on the intended meaning of each candidate competency, which will be helpful for raters.

REFERENCES

1. Hagopian A, Spigner C, Gorstein JL, Mercer MA, Pfeiffer J, Frey S, et al. Developing competencies for a graduate school curriculum in international health. Public Health Rep. 2008;123:408–14. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Association of Schools of Public Health. MPH core competency development project. [cited 2006 Jan 6]. Available from: URL: http://www.asph.org/document.cfm?page=851.
3. Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. CDC/CSTE development of applied epidemiology competencies. [cited 2006 Jan 6]. Available from: URL: http://www.cste.org/competencies.asp.
4. Mager RF. Preparing instructional objectives. 2nd ed. Belmont (CA): Lake Publishing Company; 1984.

Articles from Public Health Reports are provided here courtesy of Association of Schools of Public Health