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University responds to need for increased public health workforce with new degree

Posted: 18th November 2021

With public health at the forefront of almost everyone’s minds over the last eighteen months, there has never been a more critical time to develop the future public health workforce with skills and knowledge to advance communities’ health and wellbeing.

Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh has responded to this urgent need by launching Scotland’s first BSc (Hons) Public Health degree. The course, which will start in September 2022, will boost the development of an effective public health workforce.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role of public health practice locally, nationally and globally,” said Karen Hicks, Programme Leader for the new BSc (Hons) Public Health at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. That’s why we are excited to offer the first undergraduate degree in public health in Scotland to strengthen this discipline that can impact positively on the overall health of the nation for years to come.”

The curriculum for this new four-year course has been informed by the UK Public Health Register, the UK Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework and the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) Health Promotion Competency Framework; providing quality assurance that the degree prepares students for contemporary public health practice. Alongside developing practice, the degree explores the impact of political and social influences on health, health inequalities, and the role of public health in reducing inequities and improving health outcomes.

Students will have the chance to blend their new academic knowledge with hands-on learning opportunities at a fantastic range of placements across Edinburgh. This will allow them to gain valuable experience in different multidisciplinary organisations and various community environments that have a range of different needs. Graduates will then be well prepared to work in multiple roles within the field, including health promoter, community health worker, population health or public health advisor.

“The pandemic has shone a light on public health and improving the quality of life within our communities,” added Professor Jackie Waterfield, Head of the Division of Dietetics, Nutrition, Biological Sciences, Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Radiography at QMU. “The University’s new four-year pathway addresses the need for a new generation of public health practitioners.

It will give students the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary for rewarding careers in this rapidly growing sector, whether they choose to work in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK or further afield. Ultimately, graduates of this course will have the power to positively impact people’s lives in our communities and contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of society. What could be more rewarding than that?”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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