Academic journal article Public Health Reviews; Rennes

Innovation in Public Health Teaching: The Maastricht Experience

Academic journal article Public Health Reviews; Rennes

Innovation in Public Health Teaching: The Maastricht Experience

Article excerpt


In recent years, the working environment of the public health workforce has changed dramatically due to rapid social, technological, political and economic changes.1,2 In Western Europe, three dominant trends are apparent with respect to the healthcare sector and labour market, trends that have important consequences for education and training in public health, healthcare and life sciences. The first trend is the emergence of new healthcare problems which can only be tackled by different and diversified interventions that are reflected by new tasks, functions and professions within the healthcare sector. The second trend is the increasing scientific and academic content of knowledge to be utilised for those tasks, functions and professions. The third trend is the internationalisation of problems and population health solutions on the one hand, and the individualisation of interventions on the other hand.3-7

These trends have important consequences for the content of education and training in the health field. Firstly, there is an increasing demand for professional capacity in the field of public health/ healthcare.4 Secondly, there is the recognition of a need in the labour market for a more diverse workforce. 5 Thirdly, education and training programmes preparing future health workers for those jobs must cover an expanding scientific and methodological domain.6 In a promising answer to these trends, a newly developed Bachelor of Science programme in European Public Health was established at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. This novel educational programme is outlined in detail in this article, which describes the mission, structure and content of the course of studies, and concludes by focussing on the didactic principles associated with the programme.


Since September 2006, the bachelor's programme, European Public Health (B-EPH), has been offered to international students. On average, 75 students per annum enrol in the B-EPH programme, representing between 12 and 15 different European and non-European nationalities. The B-EPH is part of the domain of Health within the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) of Maastricht University. Within the domain of Health a broad range of bachelor's and master's degree programmes is offered (Table 1). In organisational terms, research and education at FHML is structured according to the matrix model, where the departments contribute to the execution of all educational and research programmes. The educational staff necessary to fill teaching positions in the B-EPH programme are recruited from various departments of FHML, to teach the core topics including: Epidemiology, Health Promotion, Health Policy, Economics and Management, International Health, Health Ethics and Society.


The mission of the B-EPH programme is to educate students to become state-of-the-art, all-around specialists in European Public Health, capable of appreciating, analysing and comprehending the impact of European and transnational differentiation and integration on public health, on health systems, on health services, and on the changing role of citizens, clients and patients. Therefore, the focus within the B-EPH programme is placed upon:

* Public health as collective action for sustained population-wide health improvement, reflecting the present-day academic context of public health;

* The European dimension of public health issues and developments within local, regional, national and global public health arrangements, thus reflecting the European perspective of the programme;

* A contemporary and adaptive European agenda for public health, listing current and future public health issues, problems and challenges in the European region, thus providing the scope and limits of the curriculum.

Academic Content

The scientific domain of public health has been described as: "The science and art of preventing diseases, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society". …

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