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What does MPH stand for?

When looking at various credentials behind health care professionals names, someone might see the letters, "MD, MPH" or "JD, MPH" or "MHA, MPH" or "RN, MPH" or simply "MPH".  The MPH does not stand for miles per hour as some may joke.  Rather, it stands for Master of Public Health.

Those holding an MPH complete graduate school training through programs leading to a master's degree. In order to be admitted into a master's level program, the candidate must first have earned a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree typically may be earned at a four-year college or university in a variety of major areas. The graduate programs should be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  The criteria for accreditation includes areas such as Comprehensiveness, Rigor, Flexibility, Qualification, Opportunity, Recognition.  Degrees awarded may be in the following areas: behavioral and social science, biostatistics and informatics, community health, epidemiology, environmental health, global health, health policy and management, health promotion and communication, maternal and child health, and minority and health disparities.  Many programs require core courses in each of these disciplines in addition to subject area coursework.  For example, the MPH candidate would be required to take courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, biosciences (such as pathophysiology), community health and education, health policy, health care organizations, public health practice, and a final thesis or practicum.  A candidate who further focuses in health policy and management may have additional coursework in the following areas: health care management, health care finance and accounting, health economics, additional health policy coursework, human resources management, health care law, evaluations and outcomes in health care, health information systems, strategic planning in health care.

Although relatively new, a Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential does now exist.  In order to sit for the CPH exam, the candidate must have graduated from a CEPH accredited school or program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a Health Services Manager holding an MPH is $88,580 per year.

Depending on the focus area of the MPH, an MPH graduate may have varying responsibilities in their position.  A person with an MPH in health policy and management may have administrative duties including improving quality and efficiency in the delivery of health care services, keeping up to date on new laws and regulations (including Medicaid and Medicare), supervising other employees (up to and including administrators), managing financing of an organization, creating work schedules, representing the organization in the community and on boards, maintaining and reporting data and records to key stakeholders, communicating with staff and department heads, and strategic and operational planning for the organization.

Those with the MPH degree also have developed professional qualities to help them succeed in their future positions. Those qualities include analytical skills, communication skills, attention to detail, ability to create a vision for the organization, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and technical skills in their areas of expertise.