Trumbull campus introduces new master’s program

Mariam Makatsaria

A new Master of Public Health program will be available for graduate students in Spring 2014 at Kent State Trumbull.

Ken Zakariasen, professor in the College of Public Health and professor of health policy and management, said that the program caters to the needs of full-time, working students and health care professionals in the Trumbull County area.

“What we said here is that we would absolutely design the program to match the needs of full-time working students if they’ve got families, they are working full-time, they have kids and are trying to balance all that,” Zakariasen said. “Unless the university targets their needs and absolutely builds the program to them, they are going to have a hard time going to school.”

Sonia Alemagno, dean of the College of Public Health, said that the Twinsburg Regional Academic Center currently offers the program, but the commute is a challenge for students living in the Trumbull area who want to enroll in an MPH program.

Alemagno said that the new program has attracted the interest of health care organizations and hospitals in the Mahoning Valley.

“It was sort of a mutual agreement by everyone that we would like to offer this to the Trumbull community so that they don’t have to come to Kent,” Alemagno said.

Robb King, marketing coordinator at Kent State Trumbull, said that offering this program also provides an answer to the growing demand for trained leaders in health care industries and health organizations in northeast Ohio.

“The new breed of graduate students in universities isn’t just people who are going from a bachelor’s to a master’s like it used to be,” Zakariasen said. “These are students with experience in the workforce. The learning curve is very fast for those experienced students ,and they start to apply it right away.”

After teaching an MPH leadership and organizational change program at the University of Alberta, Zakariasen led the Kent State program at the Twinsburg Regional Academic Center. He said students who enrolled in the program there changed the way it operated.

“The stuff that I give them in class on leadership or change, they are starting to use right away in their full-time jobs during the day,” Zakariasen said. “A few weeks, later they are writing papers on their results; whereas an inexperienced person, it may be years before they get a chance to do that.”

Alemagno said while the program offered at the Twinsburg Regional Academic Center is geared toward part-time students and graduate assistants, the new program at Trumbull will be structured differently. Students will take one class at a time, instead of multiple classes in 15 weeks. She said another difference is that students will complete the curriculum as a cohort group.

“(Students) will always have the same people in the program,” Alemagno said. “This is important because the focus of our program for working professionals is on leadership and organizational change. What happens is that they will get to know each other over the course of two years, and this will benefit them and their county because you’ve got 15 to 20 health care executives who will have gone through the program together.”

Alemagno said that the majority of the course will be completed in class, but there is a required online component. She said the courses are offered one night per week, and the entire sequence can be completed in two years.

“This program requires six credit hours including two classes in organizational change and leadership,” Alemagno said. “The structured coursework that our students at Kent State don’t have to take, these students have to take them. There’s also additional, targeted classwork. It’s still 46 credit hours. They don’t have electives so the electives are these structured classes.”

Zakariasen said that students in the new program will “get a much greater emphasis on leadership and change than they would in any other program.”

Alemagno said program will start either by the end of the spring semester or the beginning of the summer semester, depending on the number of students that sign up for the program.

Mariam Makatsaria is the regional campuses and Honors College reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].