Professional Development and Research Opportunities

Professional Development

Public Health Forum

Public Health Forum is a monthly presentation at which students, faculty, and colleagues gather to examine contemporary problems or issues in the public health world. Speakers include public health practitioners and policy experts from around the globe and faculty from schools of public health universities. The goal of Public Health Forum is to promote awareness and dialogue about matters critical to the public’s health. The Forum is held monthly from 12 –1 PM during the academic year in room L-112. Topics for the Forum will be posted monthly throughout the school and medical campus as well as on the SPH web. If you have any questions about the Public Health Forum, please contact Vanessa Edouard at vbe@bu.edu. Past topics include: Fraud in Medical Research; Strategies for Addressing Health Disparities in Boston; and Male Circumcision: Our Best Available HIV Vaccine.

Professional Associations

In addition to skills that are gained through classes and professional development seminars, students benefit greatly from joining professional associations.  These associations offer students opportunities to meet people working in public health, learn about job opportunities, understand trends in the field, and polish communication and presentation skills at annual meetings.  Students are strongly encouraged to become active in any of the following organizations:

Research Opportunities in MCH

MCH students have the opportunity to strengthen their research skills, and in turn, their educational experience.  Through opportunities such as fellowships, professional conference presentations, and the MCH Forum, students are able to participate in one-on-one research with a faculty member.  Benefits for students include a professionally recognized product (paper, poster, or oral presentation) and a relationship with a faculty member in their field of interest.

Many of our research opportunities are funded by a federal training grant: the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education Grant (#T76 MC00017).

MCH Fellowships

The MCH concentration is committed to preparing students for the demands of practice. In keeping with the goal, 10-12 MCH fellowships are awarded each year to concentrators who seek to build their knowledge and skills in a specialized area of maternal and child health.

The MCH Fellowship program is an opportunity for students to work closely with a faculty member and gain experience on a practice- or research-based project. Fellows are awarded $2000 and make a commitment of providing approximately 200 hours of work over a period of 10-12 months.  All are required to present their work at an MCH Forum before their graduation, and encouraged and supported to submit an abstract and present their work at national meetings.

Full-time MCH concentrators are invited to apply for a fellowship during their first fall semester of their MPH studies.  Part time students are welcome to apply in the second fall semester. A detailed list of available fellowships will be distributed to students, along with an application form.  Acceptance is based on the match between the applicant’s experience and specific faculty projects, as well as the applicant’s prior academic achievement and articulation of purpose for the specified fellowship.

The 2012-2013 fellowship opportunity listing and application will be available and distributed via email at the beginning of the fall semester.  Fellowships typically begin in November and run through mid-September, though this may vary.  Please contact Judy Margo, MCH Project Manager, at jmargo@bu.edu or 617-414-1382, should you wish to learn more about the MCH Fellowship program.

Fellowship projects are in the categories described below.

Fellowships in Interdisciplinary & Translational Research (up to 4 per year) aim to build research and evaluation competence as it applies to a broad array of MCH issues.  Students engage with faculty on all aspects of design and implementation of research projects.  Past MCH Research topics include: evaluation of peer educator-based strategies to prevent adolescent substance use and sexually transmitted infection; childbirth experiences; child feeding practices and obesity in diverse cultural groups; studies of fetal and infant mortality; and health disparities in the postpartum and inter-conception periods.

Fellowships in Integration of Family-Centered Practice and Cultural Competence (up to 3 per year) aim to build competencies in assuring family and community participation in the design and implementation of MCH programs and policies, and understanding and practicing the “art” of cultural competence, which includes recognizing cultural biases, valuing cultural differences, and creating public health programs that effectively involve and serve people from different cultures.  Fellows participate in practice-based projects in partnership with community organizations such as Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, the Nutrition and Fitness for Life Program, and the Boston Public Health Commission.  Past fellowships have included: outreach and advocacy among diverse stakeholders to build support for a statewide system of care coordination for children and youth with special health care needs; developing a family-centered, community-based oral health initiative in Lawrence, MA; and using new media approaches to communicate about depression in low-income, culturally diverse communities.

Fellowships in Life Course Perspective in Research & Practice (up to 2 per year) aim to build competency in the application of the life course perspective to MCH research and practice.  The perspective, which incorporates frameworks of human development over the life span and of the environmental and social determinants of individual and family health, presents challenges to MCH practitioners in policy context of categorical programs and policies. Fellows work with faculty on projects related to the adaptation and application of the life course perspective to applied research projects and state programs that seek to cross traditional organizational boundaries. Examples include technical assistance to New England state Title V Directors as they develop performance measures that reflect a life course perspective; research on developing new life course measures that capture key life course theory concepts; or policy development papers describing how current programming would be transformed through the use of the life course perspective.

Fellowships in Management & Leadership (up to 2 per year) aim to increase students’ leadership and management skills as they prepare for the MCH work force. Fellows take on responsibilities and develop leadership capacity through work with faculty on MCH initiatives.

Fellowships in Disability Studies (1 per year) aim to develop leadership skills and substantive knowledge in the area of disability-related health disparities.  This Fellowship is a new collaboration with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Leadership Education in Neuro-developmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, based at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Fellows will gain in-depth knowledge of family centered, culturally competent practice and policies as they relate to issues of health disparities in disability communities.  The Fellow will join the LEND program (located in Waltham, MA) one day/week (Friday) for an academic year (September-June) to take LEND core curriculum classes, which include topic-focused classes on policy, legal, and management issues related to disability populations and a year-long Maternal and Child Health Leadership Seminar. The Fellow’s SPH practicum requirement will be fulfilled through a mentored experience working with a disability organization.

NOTE: The LEND Disability Studies fellowship differs from other fellowships: LEND Fellows receive 8 credits toward the fulfillment of SPH graduation requirements (4 credits independent study and 4 credits for the practicum experience); a $12,000 stipend through LEND; and a LEND certificate demonstrating advanced leadership training in neuro-developmental and related disabilities.  LEND Fellows do not receive the $2000 stipend from BUSPH. Students who are interested in this opportunity should speak with Professor Emily Feinberg or their advisor.  It is advisable to begin these discussions as soon as you think you are interested.  Interested students must apply to the LEND Fellowship in the first January of their academic studies and should plan to allow two years to complete their MPH degree.  Decisions regarding Fellow selection will be made collaboratively by the BU and UMass programs. LEND coursework takes place in their Waltham, MA location.

Independent projects and directed studies

Students who are interested in pursuing an in-depth research opportunity may engage in a Directed Study or Directed Research with a specific faculty member.  Students should approach the faculty member and discuss a potential project. Once the project and amount of time is clear, the student should register for MC931, Directed Studies in MCH, or MC932, Directed Research in MCH, for the appropriate number of credits. Students must also complete a Directed Study Form available through the Registrar’s Office which requires a project title and project description.  Students submit their work to the faculty of record and will receive a grade for their efforts.