Public Health Leadership: Building a Graduate Program and a Culture
The University of Alberta School of Public Health (SPH) decided in 2006 to initiate a graduate program in Public Health Leadership, primarily to prepare health professionals for leadership roles in healthcare systems. The new program offers the first graduate courses in the SPH that specifically focus on leadership.
The new graduate program in Public Health Leadership was designed to meet accreditation standards, requiring core courses in traditional public health sciences, e.g., epidemiology and biostatistics. The leadership core is three three-credit courses, covering basics of leadership, whole systems organizational change and advanced leadership: individual assessment and leadership strategies. These courses emphasize such topics as successful leadership practices, leadership case analysis, leading and analyzing organizational change, whole systems methodologies for change, emotional intelligence, and individual leadership strategies. The active-education teaching methodologies focus on leadership case development and analysis, class discussion/problem-solving, design and implementation of change interventions, and extensive writing guided by organization development-based inquiry.
Leadership is important in all organizations and disciplines. Accordingly, an additional emphasis is placed on leadership within the SPH beyond the leadership program and its graduate students. This involves a leadership workshop each year for new MPH students from all disciplines during orientation that features leadership analysis exercises, teambuilding and leadership data generation for collation and feedback to students. In addition, workshops on leadership are held for any public health student group that requests them, e.g., community medicine and occupational medicine residents who are also completing MPH degrees. Graduate students from other MPH streams are also encouraged to take one or more of the leadership courses. The intent of such additional activities is to inculcate a leadership focus into the culture of the organization, preparing students from all disciplines for future leadership roles.
Keywords: Public Health Leadership, Graduate Program, Leadership Culture, Leadership Practices and Strategies, Organizational Change, Active Learning
Dr. Ken Zakariasen
Professor, Stream Leader