Public Health announces accreditation on heels of successful summit

After a successful Rural Oral Health Summit on Feb. 10, Campbell University’s Public Health program announced it has received full accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

“This is exciting news that has far-reaching benefits for our program,” said David Tillman, chair of Public Health. “In addition to validating and substantiating our curriculum and experience for students, receiving accreditation has practical consequents. Our graduates may now sit for the Certified in Public Health exam and qualify for additional fellowships and internships.”

The accreditation process began for the program in 2013 with the application submission, followed by a few years of accreditation workshops and preparation. Next was the submission of the first draft of the program self-study in April 2017 to stakeholders and CEPH. The final milestone in the journey was the formal site visit from CEPH accreditation professionals in September 2017.

“We then had to wait for their decision,” said Tillman. “It was exhilarating to get the word that we received accreditation after the years of preparation, meetings, and paperwork. It’s a great feeling to know all that hard work paid off.”

What Sets Us Apart

In October 2016, CEPH released new accreditation and curriculum standards. The program leaders took the opportunity during the accreditation process to align the curriculum to those new standards, which required revamping all syllabi for the entire curriculum, making the program among the first in the country to adhere to those standards.

Tillman said, “An innovative step we’ve taken is to be one of the only programs in the country with a first-semester practicum experience, which has been validated through the accreditation process. Our students value that hands-on, real-world experience so early in their education.

“Our students also value our strong interprofessional approach that allows them to interact on a regular basis with students in several other health care disciplines to learn how health care teams work together.”

Campbell also offers dual degree options with business, law, pharmacy and physician assistant practice. These dual degrees give students career expansion opportunities.

Out of the programs in the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Campbell is one of only two rural-health focused programs east of the Mississippi River.

Leading Role in Rural Health

Campbell and its Department of Public Health is taking a leading role in bringing awareness to the great need for rural health care and creating platforms to discuss, debate and innovate in this area.

The Department of Public Health recently held its first Rural Oral Health Summit, which brought together professionals from across the country who spoke on the integration of primary care and oral health, prevention, school-based oral health, community-integrated oral health and more.

Noted summit speakers included Mary Otto, author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America,” Dr. Marcia Brand, senior advisor of the DentaQuest Foundation and advisor on matters related to oral and rural health care access, and Maggie Sauer, director of the NC DHHS Office of Rural Health.

Campbell President J. Bradley Creed noted during the summit that from its beginning, Campbell has been committed to human flourishing, public service, and developing professionals to lead with purpose in the communities where they live.

He said, “We have a strategic focus on rural areas with an emphasis on health. This is special priority for us and must be accomplished through partnerships with organizations such as the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

Last fall, the University received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund an 18-month national exploration — the Rural Philanthropic Analysis — a project designed to better understand rural places and funding practices that are leading the way towards health improvement in rural regions across the country.

“Rural challenges are great,” said Creed. “I believe the greatest need for rural areas is leaders – people who will plant themselves in these places and with their gifts and abilities lead and serve over a lifetime.”

Campbell’s Public Health program is designed to address that specific need. By aligning an innovative curriculum with the CEPH standards, providing hands-on opportunities for students’ educational development, and creating platforms such as the Rural Oral Health Summit, the program is developing leaders who will, as Creed said, “improve the health and add to human flourishing, especially for people in overlooked, underserved and left-behind rural areas.”