Did you know that PHMC is the only public health institute in the nation that has created a work-study leadership model connecting its employees with top-level graduate public health and social work schools? Three years ago, PHMC developed two programs that offer its employees a graduate program designed to produce the next generation of public health leaders while meeting their needs as working professionals.

In September 2007, PHMC collaborated with Drexel University’s School of Public Health, one of two accredited public health schools in Pennsylvania, to create the Community Scholars Program, which offers an executive master of public health (MPH) degree designed around the needs of our workforce. The model incorporates a curriculum designed by PHMC and Drexel and aims to develop future public health leaders. Fast forward two years. In June 2009, the first cohort of 13 PHMC employees graduated from the Drexel program. Just a few months later, our first cohort of students started classes at Bryn Mawr College: Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in a similar collaboration to offer employees an advanced social work degree. “We believe that having a credentialed workforce to address the public health needs of the region is a critical part of the PHMC mission,” says Beth Shuman, director of training at PHMC.

The Drexel executive MPH program builds on each student's individual education and work experience to provide a greater understanding of the major disciplines of public health. Bryn Mawr’s master of social services (MSS) degree program, which is equivalent in both licensure and use to the master of social work (MSW) degree, includes a balanced curriculum to address the ongoing educational needs and license maintenance requirements of social workers.
Both programs offer classes to PHMC’s participants in a cohort setting, in which all students follow a consistent schedule that allows them to continue their professional careers. Currently, six students are enrolled in the Bryn Mawr program and 14 students are enrolled in the Drexel program through two cohorts.

Senior vice president John Loeb, a 1969 graduate of Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, serves on the board of advisors of the school and supports the idea of a partnership between PHMC and Bryn Mawr. “Social workers make up one of the largest parts of the PHMC workforce,” says Loeb. “So much of our work is a hybrid of social work and public health. It is very interconnected; however there is often a shortage of social work leaders.” This past year, seven employees enrolled in the social work program, which is based on PHMC’s successful academic partnership model with Drexel.

“The workload is intense,” say Shuman. “It’s a unique leadership program for high performers.” Applicants interested in either program must go through an intensive internal screening process before they can formally apply to either school. “Our students are a diverse group from across PHMC. It speaks to who we are as an organization,” says Shuman.

“At PHMC we have outstanding employees with years of experience to whom we are committed,” adds Loeb. “My hope is that as many employees as are able will avail themselves of these wonderful education opportunities PHMC offers.”

See Future of Public Health Profiles for student profiles.

For more information about these programs, contact Training at PHMC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..