Mercer University’s College of Health Professions offers the Master of Medical Science/Master of Public Health (MMSc/MPH) combined degree program. Sixty-five percent of HRSA designated Primary Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are located in rural areas. Given the need for primary healthcare providers in rural, medically underserved communities, the MMSc/MPH combined degree program specifically focuses on providing rural and underserved communities with well-trained public health minded primary care providers who have the ability to address societal health concerns and evaluate community-based programming. The primary target audience includes students with strong academic records who demonstrate an interest in community-based health promotion and primary care practice.
Students admitted to the MMSc/MPH combined degree program will complete both degrees in nine semesters, completing 33 credits of the MPH program in Year 1 (Fall and Spring semester), followed by the required 128 credits in the seven (7) consecutive semester (28 months) Physician Assistant (PA) program. Three courses required for the MPH degree (two electives and MPH Applied Practice) will be fulfilled by selected cross-listed courses in the PA program (four PA courses and PA Senior Seminar). Students must also complete 40 hours of public health service.
Upon successful completion of the MMSc/MPH combined degree program, a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) degree and Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will be awarded.
The outcomes and learning objectives for the PA Program and MPH program will remain unchanged, as the student will complete both programs in series, with only minor adaptations.
The following program objectives support the mission of the Mercer University PA program and seek to:
- Provide an educational experience that develops a strong foundation in the basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences appropriate to an entry-level primary care physician assistant.
- Foster an environment that encourages analytical thinking and the use of information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education.
- Promote clinical decision making that takes into account the uniqueness of each patient.
- Encourage self-reflection in a manner that stimulates personal growth, accountability, and a better understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Cultivate team responsiveness with physicians and other health care professionals to provide patient-centered care.
- Advocate moral and ethical behavior consistent with values found and supported in the University’s Judeo-Christian heritage while respecting the pluralistic values of our society.
- Encourage graduates to accept leadership roles in their communities and profession.
- Promote community involvement that encourages partnerships which seek to improve the quality of health care and service learning.
- Equip each graduate to be an educator, patient advocate, facilitator, and counselor.
- Provide resources that will enhance the personal and professional growth of students, faculty, and staff in a mutually respectful community.
The program objectives for the MPH programs revolve around the profession's foundational and generalist track competencies and foundational knowledge.
MPH Foundational Competencies
Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health
1. Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practices.
2. Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
3. Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
4. Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy, or practice.
Public Health and Health Care Systems
5. Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health, and regulatory systems across national and international settings.
6. Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities, and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community, and societal levels.
Planning and Management to Promote Health
7. Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities' health.
8. Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs.
9. Design a population-based policy, program, project, or intervention.
10. Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management.
11. Select methods to evaluate public health programs.
Policy in Public Health
12. Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
13. Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes.
14. Advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations.
15. Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity.
16. Apply principles of leadership, governance and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration, and guiding decision-making.
17. Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges.
18. Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors.
19. Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.
20. Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content.
21. Perform effectively on interprofessional teams.
22. Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue.
Diverse Populations and Health Equity Track Competencies
23. Analyze theoretical frameworks for disparity causation.
24. Develop community capacity for leadership among diverse populations.
25. Build capacity in diverse populations to address racism and other systems of intolerance.
26. Evaluate empowerment strategies for viability in diverse communities including disparate, rural, and aging populations.
27. Engage stakeholders to develop schemas to build sustainable programs and systems in vulnerable communities.
MPH Foundational Public Health Knowledge (Learning Objectives)
Profession and Science of Public Health
1. Explain public health history, philosophy, and values.
2. Identify the core functions of public health and the 10 Essential Services.
3. Explain the role of quantitative and qualitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population's health.
4. List major causes and trends of morbidity and mortality in the US or other community relevant to the school or program.
5. Discuss the science of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in population health, including health promotion, screening, etc.
6. Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge.
Factors Related to Human Health
7. Explain effects of environmental factors on a population's health.
8. Explain biological and genetic factors that affects a population's health.
9. Explain behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population's health.
10. Explain the social, political, and economic determinants of health and how they contribute to population health and health inequities.
11. Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease.
12. Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health, and ecosystem health (e.g., One Health).
Admission Requirements and Procedure
Applicants must apply to each program separately, according to the guidelines in the Admissions Process and Requirements section for the PA and MPH programs. Students must first apply to the PA program via CASPA and receive acceptance before applying separately to the MPH program via SOPHAS Express for combined degrees. Admissions processes for each program remain unchanged. Acceptance into each program, per the outlined criteria available on the website, is required. After successful admission to the PA program, the student with a strong academic record who demonstrates interest in community-based health promotion and primary care practice will apply to the MPH program. Students must meet the academic criteria to matriculate into the fast-track MPH program, which is a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5. The admissions requirements for the MMSc/MPH combined degree program are the same as for each individual degree.
MPH Year 1 (33 hours)
Spring (18 hours)
Principles of Epidemiology (MPH 611)
Basic Biostatistics and Health Measures (MPH 621)
Environmental Health (MPH 631)
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (MPH 641)
Public Health Management (MPH 652)
Health Systems and Policy (MPH 713)
Fall (15 hours)
Grant Proposal Writing and Development (MPH 721)
Community Health Needs Assessment (MPH 675)
Introductory Program Evaluation (MPH 730)
Diverse Populations (MPH 739)
Health Equity (MPH 740)
PA Year 2
Human Anatomy and Lab (PA 520)
Pathophysiology (PA 521)
Physical Diagnosis and Lab (PA 580)
Principles of Pharmacology (PA 530)
Clinical Decision Making 1 (PA 511)
Medical Communication (PA 501) * serves as MPH elective
Concepts in Medical Science (PA 523)
Clinical Medicine I and Lab (PA 581)
Pharmacotherapy I (PA 533)
Diagnostic Interpretation 1/ECG (PA 545)
Behavioral Medicine (PA 550) * serves as MPH elective
Clinical Decision Making II (PA 512)
Medical Nutrition (PA 572) * serves as MPH elective
Clinical Medicine II and Lab (PA 582)
Pharmacotherapy II (PA 534)
Diagnostic Interpretation II (PA 542)
Surgical Medicine (PA 573)
Clinical Decision Making III (PA 513)
Emergency Medicine (PA 570)
Biostatistics for Clinicians (PA 561) * serves as MPH elective
PA Year 3
Clinical Medicine 3 (PA 584)
Evidence-Based Medicine for Clinical Practice (PA 562)
Concepts in Health (PA 505)
Medical Ethics (PA 502)
Family Practice Practicum (PA 601)
Internal Medicine Practicum (PA 602)
Hospital Medicine Practicum (PA 603)
Women’s Health Practicum (PA 604)
Pediatric Medicine Practicum (PA 605)
Emergency Medicine Practicum (PA 606)
General Surgery Practicum (PA 607)
Behavioral Medicine Practicum (PA 608)
PA Year 4
Orthopedic Medicine Practicum (PA 609)
Elective 1 (PA 611)
Elective 2 (PA 612)
Senior Seminar * (PA 650) *will be dually listed as PA 650 and MPH 793 (Applied Practice Experience)
The tuition for the MMSc/MPH dual degree program is as follows:
Year 1: Spring/Fall semester tuition per MPH semester fee.
Year 2 through graduation: The PA program tuition is fixed per semester throughout the 28 months.
Students are assigned advisors in both programs upon matriculation.