A qualification in the growing sector of health promotion could give professionals the chance to diversify into different fields.
Health promotion covers a wide range of health issues, from obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health improvement, alcohol and substance misuse to smoking.
Courses such as the online MSc in Health Improvement and Health Promotion, delivered by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, give health professionals the qualification required to meet key competencies, such as the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF), to allow practitioners to progress in their field.
The growing emphasis on the preventable causes of disease has also meant that the skills developed on this type of course are now incorporated into the roles of other health professionals, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and nurses.
The MSc at RGU is the only one of its kind worldwide. The course is also endorsed by the Royal Society of Health (RSH).
The MSc is particularly successful as it is delivered completely online. Students can study at any time, anywhere, giving them the freedom to juggle gaining a qualification with work and family. Indeed, 99% of those currently on the course work full-time and come from destinations as varied as Nigeria and Canada, as well as across Scotland and the UK.
Students on the course submit work online, as well as joining live discussions and a weekly one-hour tutorial. The course uses Wimba, a collaborative learning software that gives a virtual classroom setting via webcam, allowing cohorts to see each other, lending a community feel to the course.
Gil Strachan, course leader at the university’s School of Health Sciences, said: “Health improvement is no longer the sole responsibility of the NHS – it covers every single sector from employment and social policy to local government and the police.
“We provide a holistic view of health and health promotion, enabling students to critically examine the issues that surround the health of the population. The course attracts students from a wide range of health professions, which has real benefit as they learn from each other’s experience and the issues that they face in their day-to-day workplaces.
“Professionals on this course now work in a climate of constant change. Our aim is to equip them with the ability to adapt to the political climate, and to develop and evaluate initiatives designed to reduce inequalities and improve health. Through multi-professional teamwork, clinical partnership, research, scholarly and professional activity graduates will develop the high standards of knowledge, skill, competency and conduct expected of this new breed of health professional.”
One of the students on the course is Fiona Thomson, the fourth delegate who has achieved a job promotion since the course started. Fiona has been promoted from assistant health improvement officer to hepatitis C trainer.
Fiona said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the course so far. I am particularly pleased that it has been designed to be relevant to the changing needs within health improvement and health promotion within the workplace.
“The topics covered are up to date and current and I have found the staff helpful and encouraging and any difficulties I have had either with technology or practical work have been dealt with quickly and to my satisfaction. I feel that the relationship with tutors is one of mutual respect and learning together rather than ‘teacher’ and ‘student’. As I am a mature student this approach is great.
“Having participants from other countries and areas of Scotland enhances the learning experience and I have already gained a new job which I feel is partly due to the fact that I am doing the course.”
Delegates should have a degree plus a minimum of one year of work experience or have a professional qualification and/or a minimum of two years’ work experience. The course can be completed over a period of two to five years.
The modules are also offered in a stand-alone format and can be taken through the university’s Postgraduate Professional Studies Programme. They meet the key competencies including the Knowledge and Skills Framework and National Occupational Standards for the Practice of Public Health, which will allow individuals to develop core competencies within their continued professional development.
Read the article on ”The Press and Journal” website.