Student Spotlight Courtney Norton, MPH

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Kijuana Lloyd:
Good afternoon. Welcome to the Master of Public Health Online Program Student Spotlight webinar with Courtney Norton, presented by the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.My name is Kijuana Lloyd, I am an Enrollment Advisor for the Master of Public Health Online Program, and I’ll be your host today.

First, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.Before we begin, I’d like to review what you can expect during the presentation. To cut down on background noise, please mute your phone line so as not to disturb the presenters. If you have any questions for our speaker, please type them into the Q and A box in the lower right hand corner of your screen and hit send. Feel free to ask your questions as you think of them, and we’ll answer as many as time allows at the end of the presentation. A copy of this recording and slide presentation will be available in the following week.Here’s a quick look at what we’ll be covering. First, I will share a little bit about the university, our program director, and our guest speaker. Then we will hear from Courtney Norton, who will share background, her experience in the MPH Online Program and how she has applied it in her career. Lastly, I will speak to the admissions requirements, important dates and deadlines, and we will end the presentation with a brief Q and A session.Now, the Keck School of Medicine was established in 1885.

Keck is the oldest medical school in Southern California. Today, it is a place of dynamic activity and patient care, scientific discovery, medical and bioscience education and community service. Together, we are poised to lead medicine and healthcare in the 21st century for the benefit of humankind. The Department of Preventative Medicine at Keck, of the medicine, is known as a leader in public health and population health sciences.Organized into six divisions, Disease Prevention and Global Health, Bio Informatics, Biostatistics, Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, Environmental Health and Behavioral Health Research.

We are regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The MPH Online Program is also accredited by the Council on Education and Public Health, and we are ranked in the top 25 of the nation’s best Universities by the US News and World Report.

The Master of Public Health Online Program at USC is proud to offer rigorous curriculum. The core courses focuses on developing your key public health competencies and skills, while the concentration courses allow you to tailor your studies and in area of your choosing. We have five tracks available: Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Health Education and Promotion, Global Health Leadership, GeoHealth and Health Services and Policy.

Regardless of what concentration you choose, you can be assured our expert faculty will remain true to the program’s mission, and that is to assist in creating healthy communities around the world by preparing you to lead and collaborate with others and organize community efforts across a variety of settings.

Dr. Shuba Kumar is our program director. She’s the Assistant Professor, Clinical Preventative Medicine at Keck School of Medicine at USC. She holds a Bachelor in Biology and PHD in Healthcare Management and Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her professional and research interest include: Management and Leadership in Global Health and Development, Program Planning and Evaluation, Health Systems Strengthening, and Best Practices and Knowledge transfer in Health Education. She’s known for her expertise in impact evaluations, particularly social return and investment analysis. She’s lectured and consulted nationally and internationally, and developed the first distance education module on this subject.

Our speaker today is Courtney Norton, she is a Spring 2015 MPH Online graduate with an emphasis on Global Health Leadership. Born in a military family, at age 10, she traveled with her mother and sister to volunteer with Red Cross at a Navy military installation in Central California. In the Summer of 2016, Courtney accepted a position with the Red Cross as a Service to the Armed Forces and International Services Specialist, where she supports programs such as Restoring Family Links, Measles and Rubella Initiative, and Reconnection Workshop. She enjoys working with volunteers and building new volunteer teams to support the initiative focused on the military veterans and their families as well as supporting our international community.

Hello Courtney. Thank you for joining us today.

Courtney Norton:
Thank you for having me, I’m very excited to be here. Okay, I will jump right in and talk about why I wanted to earn my MPH with USC.

I was extremely excited when I did my research, and I found the Global Health Institute, so I watched Southwall, Global Health Lecture Series and I was inspired that knew it was the best program and fit for me. USC was my number one choice, so I was extremely happy when I was accepted into the program. I was accepted in 2013, into the first online cohort, and in 2015 I graduated in the Spring and I had my MPH in Global Health Leadership.

I was extremely interested in global health from when I started as an undergrad, when I completed my Americore term in 2006, I focused on social justice topic, including women’s health and human rights, and I knew I wanted to continue on in that field, even though it took me several years to apply after I completed my Bachelor’s degree. And then, when I applied to USC, I knew it was the right time for me to start my Masters of Public Health.

This slide, I’m going to be talking about my hands-on experience. I learned about major players in Global Health Governments by attending the 67th World health assembly in may of 2014, and we visited the World Health organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. My research paper for this course focused on one of the Global Health agenda topic, it was monitoring a framework for maternal, infant and child nutrition. As part of the Global Health formal course that I was able to take as an online MPH student, we had a research paper in addition to traveling abroad. My research paper focused on ending vaccine preventable death in children and this photo on the right side shows a group of us who attended the summer course, and it’s a photo of us at the United Nations located at the Palais des Nations.

Here is a photo of our group, this is the WHO Strategic Health Operations Center, known as the SHOC room. This is where the WHO monitors global public health events around the clock and facilitate international collaboration during public health emergencies and daily operations. This was very exciting to see, as I will be discussing my work with American Red Cross and public health emergencies.

Another very exciting opportunity that I had was to travel to the American Public health Association Conference in 2014, which was hosted in New Orleans. I was able to attend as an online student and also with on-ground students, so this photo shows us online students, as well as some on-ground students, and I would highly recommend attending conferences if you can, that’s a great learning opportunity for self-growth, professional growth as well, and you’ll meet amazing people. I highly recommend it.

This slide shows my current employer. I have worked with American Red Cross, and I’ll go into more detail. The American Red Cross is a national organization, and the mission statement is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. In this mission statement, I can personally attest to you, as a volunteer and as an employee of the organization, this nonprofit is very driven by mission. That is the culture of our organization, they are mission driven to help people. Very human focused, so if anyone comes into a Red Cross office, the goal is to make people feel that it is mission driven by focusing on humans. We are very focused on alleviating human suffering and multiple ways, and I’ll go into more detail about that in other slides.

American Red Cross is quite large. We have over 23,000 employees and over 330,000 volunteers. American Red Cross is a national society. It is one of 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Society around the world. There are currently new societies being formed every year, and each national society is made up of volunteers and staff, to provide a wide variety of services ranging from disaster relief and assistance, to first aid and training and public health courses, as well as restoring family links, which falls under the international umbrella. I included the website here, for more information.

Here is where I want to talk about. This organization of American Red Cross has a lot of room for growth for people that are interested in a company that is not only a local in a community, but it’s also very nationally involved. I started my American Red Cross involvement as an adult in Philadelphia, where I completed my second AmeriCorps term. I’m an AmeriCorps member with the Emergency Services Department and Youth Services Department where I served the five greater counties of Philadelphia, PA. So I was on the ground, every day in the community, serving community members and assisting them in educational opportunities as well as direct community service programs.

I’ve also, the vast of my Philadelphia experience of how I started as an adult with the American Red Cross, when I completed my Philadelphia experience, I wanted to come back out to California to start my graduate program. I knew right away that I wanted to attend USC, as that was my top choice, so as I was being accepted into my position as the Youth Coordinator position, that was asked during my interview about my educational and professional growth plan. I was able to be honest and let them know during my interview process that I was hoping to attend graduate school full time and so when I was hired, that was something that was well-known, that I would also be going to school and shortly after I was hired, I found out I was accepted into the program.

As you can see, I was able to balance being a full time student, that was also working full time. I started out as a Youth Coordinator, and then I moved to another area within Southern California, and served as a volunteer Specialist and that’s where I started to work more hands-on with military services and international services. I work daily with the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center that is located here in Southern California.

My current position is a Service to the Armed Forces and International Services Specialist, which I will go into more detail about. Some of my daily activities in my current role is not only supporting military families and veterans, but also supporting our national emergency and non-emergency communication messages.

What that entails with American Red Cross messages is, we deliver Red Cross messages for people that experience emergencies, such as a death in the family, if there’s been an accident or if there’s a birth in the family. There’s a lot of emergency messages. We also have non-emergency messages, which we communicate world wide. If people are having difficulty as a veteran or as a family member, and they’re having difficulties with their electricity or they’re looking for resources on food assistance, those are programs that Red Cross works locally with other agencies to provide these other additional resources. We are there, not only during emergencies, but we’re there for other life circumstances as well.

We provide these services for people with, on a military base, who is around a military base, or don’t live anywhere near a military base. I support all of our service to the Armed Forces families in addition too, we have a very robust mental health and resiliency program that majority of my time with the resiliency program and the mental health program is spent on the Reconnection Workshop, which we have for adults and children.

Here are two other areas that I also focused on in my current role. We have a national campaign for the Home Fire Preparedness Program where we install free smoke alarms to families and we also provide them educational knowledge on home fire safety preparedness and we go over a fire escape plan. This is being done across the country, and as part of my USC completion, and earning my MPH, we have to do a practicum. I did my practicum, I completed over 300 hours focusing on home fire preparedness where I focused on injury prevention, and how that relates to not only on the ground work that we do in local communities, but I also went into depth on the academics side of injury prevention and how all of those pieces tie together.

My other photo here shows a Youth Preparedness Program, which I’m still involved in as I have been working with youth since I started my Red Cross experience in 2011. Here, this is a photo of our puppet show, we also have other youth programs, one of them is the Pillowcase Project, which is coordinated with the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, where we provide information to the primary targeted audience of third to fifth graders, and this information is focused on home fire safety as well, and the children receive a pillowcase project, and it’s super fun where they learn about home fire safety and they get this pillowcase to take home to their families, so it’s a wonderful opportunity.

We also have the Measles and Rubella Initiative, that is focused globally, in addition to our work that we do here, locally in our communities.

My next slide, I’m going to go into more detail about what the mission of the service to the Armed Forces department is. Under the American Red Cross umbrellas, the mission of the Service to the Armed Forces Department is to provide care and comfort to members of the United States Armed Forces, and their families. The American Red Cross helps members of the military, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to challenges of military service.

From day one, when our military service members enlist, American Red Cross helps them serve not only them, but also their families. We are able to provide this support through the corporate and foundation members, and we provide services to over 1.3 million active duty members of the US military, we also provide support to over 900,000 members of the US National Guard and Reserve. There are over 21.2 million veterans in the US, and we have over three million US military families that we support.

As I discussed earlier, with our Adult Reconnection Workshop and our Children Reconnection Workshop, I wanted to emphasize our Children Reconnection Workshop as the Red Cross supports families as a whole, but not only do we help adults to relate to children, but we also have classes specifically for children and the classes start at age range of eight years old, and goes up to children that are 18 years old. The Children Reconnection Workshop focuses on the transitional events model, that provides a useful framework that recognize the resilience in military children by enhancing those factors that strengthen, that supports, to deal with stressors that military children might face, such as decreasing children’s exposure to stressful changes following a parent’s return from deployments, strengthening child and family resources for dealing with stressors, and also, it is evidence-based intervention. It focuses on helping increase a child’s resilience, self-esteem and psychological well-being.

Now, I’m going to try to tie in how American Red Cross is part of the Global Red Cross Network. On the left-hand side, I have the ICRC logo, and the International Committee of the Red Cross is an impartial, mutual and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignities or victims of armed conflict and other situation of violence, and to provide them with assistance.

That’s how the International Committee of the Red Cross connects with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, which is the world’s largest humanitarian organization providing assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious belief, [inaudible 00:20:58] or political opinion.

Off to the right, it has National Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. The American Red Cross is a part of the Global International Red Cross and Red Crescent Network, and it is one of the national societies that provides restoring family links services to clients in the US. Now, I’m going to go into a little bit more detail about this International Services program called Restoring Family Links Services.

Here, you’ll see two different forms, one of the forms is Tracing Inquiries, and the other one is our Red Cross message. These are the two main tools that Red Crosses uses to reconnect families throughout the world. An example of how we use restoring family links locally in my area is, we have been able to connect family members living here in the US to family members that they have in Australia and Hungary, that are now reconnected by us as international service employees and volunteers going out and doing home visits. A funny story was, when my co-worker and I went out to do a home visit, to this person who was being spot by a family member in Hungary, we went back to this address several times in one day, as we first went by to the home, well, the person was in the shower.

We knocked on the door once, we went to the neighbor’s home and we came back, and we had a feeling that someone was home, so we went across the street, tried other neighbors, and then we went for a third time, and the third time is when this family member was out of the shower, and invited us in, and we were able to complete our home visit, and reconnect this person in the US with their family member in Hungary, and we also had a very successful story of reconnecting a family member who live here in the US with family in Australia, and we were able to do some detective work by finding the correct address by doing additional work, which was not listed in the paperwork that we received.

There are some really fun qualities to doing Restoring Family Links by doing extra detective work and going out into the field and getting hands-on experience as well as the amazing opportunity to see families reconnect with one another after being apart for a while.

Now, I’m going to go into a little bit of detail of how I’ve been able to utilize what I have learned in the MPH program.

Some practical professional skills that I have learned is to lead by example. The way that I work at leading by example is, it’s often best if I’m the first one in, and the last one out. This has helped me to see the volunteer show up, to see them excited, and to see after an event or program have completed, to be able to stay to answer questions and connect with other volunteers or community members that attended an event. Putting in the time makes a world of difference. I’ve also learned the importance of showing up. And this could mean multiple avenues such as, not only in person, but responding to emails, responding to text messages, phone calls, virtually for webinars, professionally and personally, as well as reports. Internally and externally, as well as social media updates.

I can’t say enough great things about our professors at USC, they show up, I had received emails at 5AM from a professor when I emailed the professor, maybe at midnight, and I received an email from the professor at 5AM the next day. I have also sent emails to professors at 10 o’clock at night, and then received a response, maybe 10:30. I strongly encourage to reach out to the professors, as they are experts in their field, and they are great resources available.

This slide, I wanted to get into some technical skills, and so the technical skills that I have learned, one of the most difficult challenges that I had was the statistics class. When I took statistics, I did not think I would be doing any statistics in my future work. However, once I started taking the class, I realized, this applies to my daily work. I report data and numbers every day. I also have metric polls that I need to report upon. When I understood how it applied to my current role, and also my future roles that I could have, I was able to be more engaged in my Biostatistics class. I highly recommend, even a course that sounds challenging, dive in, it is possible to complete challenging courses.

Another opportunity that I had to learn technically was intervention methods. As I mentioned before, I completed my practicum on injury prevention and the model that used, was an injury prevention model, that was implemented through the Home Fire Campaign. It tied in perfectly to the work that I was already doing with American Red Cross, but also allowed me to go into further research that I would not have had the opportunity to do as the Home Fire Campaign, as in a different department than my current role. The Home Fire Campaign is under the Department of Disaster Site Services, so I was able to broaden my experience with American Red Cross and become more knowledgeable by branching out into the Disaster Cycle Services Department to complete my practicum.

I also learned about Evidenced-based programs, I’ve been able to apply that through the Disaster Preparedness education that’s implemented. As I mentioned, The Pillowcase Project earlier, the target age range is for third through fifth graders, and it focuses on local hazards as well as coping skills. Another area that I’m very passionate about is evidenced-packed practice programs, which as different from evidenced-based programs. The areas that I get to focus on is through the mental health and resiliency skill building workshop, through the reconnection workshops for both adult and children. We have five adult classes, and we have two children’s classes. I’m very fortunate to be able to work in this area every day.

Here’s some helpful tips that I have learned, that I hope I can pass along to you, prospective or current students, is to read the syllabus. I have the syllabus printed out in my binder. I reviewed it often, I have many of the questions that I would have no idea to, I went back to the syllabus to be able to find the answer many times by just re-reading the syllabus. The importance of timelines and deadlines matter, not only academically, but professionally as well.

Another piece of advice I would highly recommend is putting in the time, prioritizing your studies and also your work priorities, so I can tell you that I have turned down opportunities that I was interested in over the weekends, but I needed that. If I said yes to some really fun events, then I may not have done as well as I would have liked to on research papers or on exams, so I just recommend putting in the time to prioritize. Not only putting in the time for assignments, but putting in a planning time as well.

Something that I learned that I was not planning to learn on about would be passion. I was super passionate about going to Geneva, Switzerland, and I learned first hand that passion does not guarantee an A. As I was writing my paper, I realized that I needed some additional assistance in how to structure my research paper. I had all these great information that I researched, but the swell of it did not really come through as very poised as I would have liked it. I learned how to structure a research paper as well as how to become a better writer by limiting the use of passive voice and how to streamline my sentences. I did not go back and re-read the notes that my professor provided, I would not have been able to utilize these skills in my current role today, professionally. I highly recommend, when professors give recommendations and give the opportunity to turn in draft papers, to take them up on that offer, because that will significantly help your writing style, as well as future endeavors.

That’s my portion. Kijuana I’ll turn it back over to you.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Thank you very much Courtney for sharing your experience with us today. I do want to remind you guys, if you have any questions, please go ahead and type them in the Q and A box, and we will get to them shortly.

Now, if you are not a current student and are interested in applying to the program, here are the admissions requirements. To be eligible for this program, students must meet the following qualifications: you need to have a Bachelor degree from an accredited institution, so a regionally accredited institution, you need an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. You also need a GRE test score, I will usually look for a minimal score of 297 or above, that is broken down to 153 in the verbal reasoning segment, 140-

Sorry about that, we experienced some technical difficulties, but just to speak to the admissions requirements again, an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or better. A GRE score of 297 or above, again, that’s broken down into the two verbal and quantitative reasoning segments, you need to score at least a 153 verbal and 144 for quantitative. We do also substitute for the GMAP, you need to score at least 600, and with the MCAT score, you need to be in the top 60% percentile. In addition to those, you need three letters of recommendation. If you graduated within the last five years, an academic letter of recommendation is required, and at least one professional letter of recommendation.

Your personal statement of purpose, just two to three pages outlining why you’re looking to earn this degree, what it will do for your career, and how you plan to contribute positively into the field. You would also need to submit a current professional resume, or curriculum vitae.

For international applicants, additional materials may be required, but if you have any specific questions regarding the admissions requirement, please feel free to contact your enrollment advisor.

Now, we are currently reviewing applicants for the Fall Term, Fall 2017. The terms, classes start September 6th, and the application deadline is July 28th. If you’re interested in applying to the Spring Term, the application deadline is November 26th, and the term starts January 10. Again, if you have any specific questions regarding the admissions requirement or start dates, please feel fee to contact your enrollment advisor.

Now, we’ll try to answer your questions. To submit a question, please type it in the Q and A box. If we don’t get to your question today, your enrollment advisor will follow up with you directly. Okay?

Our first questions, this question is actually for Courtney. Courtney, we have “What was your opinion about online learning prior to applying to the program? How has your opinion changed that you’ve completed the program?”

Courtney Norton:
That’s an excellent question. My opinion prior to the online program was, I was super excited to apply if I knew that I wanted to work full time as well as gain the opportunity to have the course work available online. I was looking forward to it. I was an online student, I knew that I did very well by following deadlines, of course I had no idea what that really meant until I started the program, so I would say I was excited prior to my experience, and then afterwards, I would say that what I learned through the online program is deadlines, the importance of deadlines, but I had an amazing experience. The professors and the whole way that the online structure is set up, I was able to feel very connected.

I felt supported by the professors, and staff. I was able to also connect with other students as well through the multiple class lines that we had available. I highly recommend it, there is access to engage with professors through different platforms in real time where you can do video chat, there’s platforms where you can check out questions, they can respond to the questions, I highly recommend it. The online program is very doable.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Wonderful. Thank you for answering. Our next question is also for you, Courtney. Do you think this program prepared you for your career now? And if so, how?

Courtney Norton:
Yes, I would say this program absolutely prepared me. As I was drawn to the online program through the Global Health Institute, and I knew that I wanted to gain international experience, not only academically through how to write a research paper, how to do a academic research in the area of global health and public health, but also, in my current role that focuses on humanitarian emergencies through American Red Cross as well as internationally through the Global International Red Cross, I feel very well prepared by having this academic research skills and practical tools that I could use to further my career growth and interest, not only with this organization that I’m current with, at American Red Cross, but also international organizations as whole as I love doing international work, but localized in different communities as well. Absolutely, this program has very well prepared me.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Great. Thank you for that answer. I actually have an admissions question right now, and I haven’t taken the GRE, do you recommend taking a study course or studying on your own?

I’ll be honest with you, several students that applied for the program have not yet taken the GRE. Don’t let deter you from applying to the program, because you can at least start the application process while you are preparing for the GRE. If you feel that a GRE prep course would be beneficial to you, then by all means, you can definitely enroll in a GRE prep course. Some students are okay with studying on their own and preparing themselves. Most students take a good four to six weeks to prepare for the GRE before they go ahead and schedule that. What I would advise, there are free practice exams that you can participate in. Definitely, I would suggest you take a practice exam, and that way, you can gauge where you stand, where your strengths are, what areas you need to focus your studies, and then you can decide from there what your next steps would be in the GRE process. Okay?

Our next question is actually for Courtney. Courtney, a student is asking, does the branch of the Red Cross that you currently work for take health educators or just global public health focused?

Courtney Norton:
That’s an excellent question. American Red Cross will have volunteers as well as employees from all different types of backgrounds, so if the background is in … what was the specific area, Kijuana that was mentioned?

Kijuana Lloyd:
She was looking at Global health … I’m sorry, health educator. Health education and promotion, do they take health educators or just focused on the global public health focus?

Courtney Norton:
I would say both. If someone is passionate about the community health education, or if they have an interested in global health, there are ways to apply both of them to American Red Cross as well as the Global International Red Cross. Absolutely. They’re both very well received.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Okay, great. Great. Our next question, actually, can be an admissions question. It says, how does USC help those students in finding resources or jobs that they can be a part of?

One thing that I can say, USC is one of the world’s leading private research institution. We are ranked in the top 25 by the US News and World Report as top universities to attend, we are well-known world wide. USC has the largest and strongest alumni network of more than 300,000 graduates spread across the globe, whose career goals are supported through associated groups and clubs. For instance, for the MPH alumni, there’s a Salerni Collegium alumni association, and it serves as a robust network for forward thinking professionals in the medical and public health communities. You’ll be connected with scientists and physicians, public health managers, lab researchers, and these connections can lead to forming bonds that can result in mentorship and collaborative problem solving, but most importantly, job opportunities.

We also have an initiative called the Trojans Hiring Trojans, because the bonds of the Trojan family are more important than ever, and reinforcing those bonds, it’s a responsibility that we all share. In that spirit, the USC alumni association, and the USC career center, we invite you, all our alumni, to join the Trojans Hiring Trojans, which is an initiative that we hope makes it easier for Trojans to help other Trojans and support them in their career goals.

As an online student, you have access to all of the same resources as the campus students. You build relationships with your faculty members. A lot of them serve as mentors in your second year. You have access to the career service department, and our career center invites all of members to join the Trojan family and to join the Connect USC, and that’s USC’s online job and internship database. We are excited to be able to provide the foundation for Trojans looking to develop career connections with other Trojans in the industry.

Okay. Our next question, actually, is for Courtney. Courtney, one of our students would like to know, how many hours did you find yourself dedicating to your studies each week? Did you work while you were enrolled in the program? And if so, were you working full time or part time?

Courtney Norton:
Those are also great questions. I would say that I started with at least 20 hours a week when I first started my program. Then I was able to adjust accordingly as I’ve needed for each week. I would recommend about 20 hours, it sounds a lot like a lot in the beginning, but it is doable. It is very doable to put in a 20 hours a week. I did work. I started working between 25 to 30 hours with Red Cross, and then also I went up to full time as well where I started working, over 40 hours a week. It’s very doable, it just takes prioritizing and some planning, but I was able to manage and complete my courses, so I highly recommend it. Just planning the time into my schedule.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Okay, thank you for sharing that. I hear that question a lot from our students because they have … they’re working full time, and have families and don’t know how they’re going to squeeze in a full time program into their schedule. I thank you for sharing your experience in how you … in your time management.

Our next question is also for Ms. Norton. The question is, are there any resource that you recommend that are for evidenced-based programs and evidenced-practice programs?

Courtney Norton:
Hi, can you hear me?

Kijuana Lloyd:
I can hear you now.

Courtney Norton:
Okay, great. There are resources available. Doing a Google search, there’ll be multiple resources that come up for evidenced-based program as well as evidenced-practice program. It really depends on what one is interested in, so I can recommend Red Cross programs that are evidenced-based, and evidenced-practice, but there are also numerous models available that support both of those programs. It is very tailored to what someone may be interested in in particular and how that could apply to a job that they currently have or a job that they’re interested in the future.

And then, also using the professors as well as a resource, asking them questions. If it’s very specific on what areas that they’re currently interested in and how it can relate, I would highly recommend reaching out to professors as well. Or if a student is not currently enrolled, reaching out to enrollment advisors. I had a lot of questions for my enrollment advisor and I was able to get them all answered.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Okay, thank you. Courtney, I also have a question. The question is, did you find that the online program provided certain advantages?

Courtney Norton:
Yes. Absolutely. I had advantages. By being an online student, I was able to complete my readings, whether I wanted to do my readings early in the morning, I could do it during my lunch hour, I can also do it in the evening, I was able to connect with other students during hours that I wouldn’t normally be able to connect with if I was an on-ground student. By being an online student as well, I was able to connect with other students by attending conferences and being involved in the course that was available during the summer for the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. There are advantages to being an online student, but also, our work schedule as well. It makes it more, I would say I felt like I had more freedom because I was able to plan my time around different deadlines and assignments that would not have been maybe available during particular hours of nine to five. I definitely I was able to be creative in my schedule and how I’d be able to fit things in.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Okay. That actually leads us to our second question, well, our next question was what was your favorite part about being in USC’s online MPH Program?

Courtney Norton:
Wonderful question. I had, I believe, over all two favorites. When I applied, I was really excited about the academic research areas that were related to global health, and I was able to learn very in depth information through our course work as well as get the hands-on experience as I did not travel internationally through global health programs prior to the online program. One of the reasons I applied as well, is to gain that hands-on experience and I was fortunate to be accepted into the summer course for the world health assembly, and learning more about global health government, so I was not only able to get the hands-on experience but visiting another country, but also, I have the skills now on how to do academic research and resources available to further my interest on the academic side. Those academically and hands-on experience were definitely my favorite component.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Thank you for sharing that. This next question is actually an admissions question, and is asked, must the student have previous work experience in public health to be admitted into the program or can a recent graduate with no experience apply and be accepted?

Absolutely. The student population in the online program is very diverse. We have students that are working in the public health field, working in the healthcare field. We have students that are recent graduates coming out of the program, coming out of their undergraduate programs, and even students coming out of medical school, but more importantly, this program, in your first, it’s a two-year full time program and your first 40 hours is your course work. In that course work, everyone is required to take the same five core courses, which allows you to build that foundation in public health, but more importantly, it will give you an opportunity to just touch upon each of the different tracks that are offered within the program.

Even if you don’t know what direction you’d like to go, you have an opportunity to get some experience in each of those tracks. Now, in the last portion of the program, your last seven hours, you’re going to complete a practicum. That practicum, it consists of 300 hours of service. Now, mind you, it’s more hours than some of our other, some other programs may require, but we want to make sure all of our students are fully equipped and ready to go out into the field, and be successful and be public health leaders.

Your experience, it will be gained during your practicum and that is the 300 hours of service, it will be supervised, and even with that, you have a practicum coordinator there to assist you in figuring out what you’d like to do for your practicum, you’re able to tailor it to fit your specific needs and get the experience that you need to, again, go out into the field and be successful in your career.

Okay. Our next question is also for Courtney. Courtney, did you complete a thesis, if so, were there any barriers in completing the research or forming a research committee because the program is online.

Courtney Norton:
That’s an excellent question. As part of the practicum, we do have a paper, and all through our course work, in almost all of the classes there was a final project, which can be a paper or it could be project focused that may not include a paper, so the word thesis, I did not write a 200 page paper like some thesis’ can be 200 plus pages, but I have written in depth papers that are longer and I would say, just to be flexible, in working at practicum opportunities for myself, I had a few different ideas and they did not turn out the way that I originally thought, so I went back, and was able to work with my practicum coordinator and was able to change it and it worked out wonderfully where I was able to be involved very hands on in my experience.

I would say, just be flexible and open-minded when it comes to research papers. By being open-minded, you may find, “Oh, I didn’t know, I thought I would be so interested in this area.” I didn’t have any other barriers other than my writing skills, which I mentioned earlier in the talks, which I definitely improved upon by this program, and I am very thankful that I improved upon my writing skills ’cause I might think they were decent before, but now, I can write much better. And I’m still learning to this day, so highly recommend staying open-minded, and open to receiving feedback as well, as the professors will provide very helpful feedback.

Kijuana Lloyd:
Wonderful. Thank you, Courtney. I do want to clarify that there is not a thesis requirement for our program. You do have your practicum and your capstone course. The capstone course is where you combine the knowledge that you learned through the program and just share how you applied it in your practicum experience.

Our next question is, I am currently active duty, what if I cannot complete the first five courses in my first semester or so? I have done online classes before, and I managed even after being deployed in the middle of my program. Is there an exception to this? Another question is, being that I am active duty, will the professors understand when I have work extension hours or I don’t have connectivity for whatever reason?

To answer that question, first off, it is a two-year full time program, where you’re taking two classes at a time. However, you have up to five years to complete the program. If a situation occurs where you are not able to attend for a particular semester, you would definitely let us know, get approval from the program director, and you are not required, you don’t have to take courses in that next semester.

As far as accommodations, this is an online program, it was designed for working professionals. We definitely understand that life happens, schedules change, all of the above. Just staying in communication with your professors and letting them know what is going on with you, I’m sure that things can work out. Accommodations can be made, but if you are anywhere in the world, as long as you have internet connections, you are able to complete your course work. I hope that answered your questions.

Our next question is, I am currently in an MPH program, and would like to transfer. The practicum at my current school is only 120 hours. Many students are not able to complete their projects with only 120 hours, your practicum requirements seems more realistic.

Being already in an MPH online program, and transferring into our MPH Program, I’ll be honest with you, as far as if you’re looking for transfer credits, the maximum number, the university policy, is 12 credits, and I’m not sure how many you’ve completed, but it is at the discretion of our program directors and you will know whether or not transfer credits are accepted upon starting the program. Your practicum hours, students can split those hours over multiple semesters, so you’re able to start your practicum after you’ve completed your fifth course, which is normally the third semester, and then you can use the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth semester to complete those practicum hours.

If you have any questions regarding practicum, again, there’s a practicum coordinator there to assist you and will be more than happy to answer any questions that you have specifically regarding our practicum experience.

We have several students, like I said, the student population is very diverse. We have medical professionals that are working 50, 60 hours a week, and are still able to carve out that time to complete their practicum hours and I’m sure, with a little guidance from your advisor, you’ll definitely be able to develop a good time management schedule.

I do want to thank you very much, Courtney, for just sharing your experience with us today, and I want to thank everyone who participated in today’s webinar. If you have any additional questions, or you think that it’s time to apply, please reach out to either myself or one of our other advisors. Our contact information is on your screen now. A copy of this recording and slide presentation will be available in the coming weeks, and this concludes today’s webinar.

Thank you again, and everyone have a wonderful day.