Practice Plunge: U-M School of Public Health moves to Detroit for day

September 6, 2006

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan School of Public of Health is bringing its incoming students to the state’s largest city Sept. 1. The first known program of its kind in the nation, Practice Plunge aims to introduce students to practicing public health in a large city.

About 100 students will be bused from the Ann Arbor campus to Detroit on Sept. 1, the day after their orientation, for an intensive day of meeting local health experts, touring the city and hearing community leaders talk about the health problems that their constituents face.

“For too long the profession of public health, as taught by schools of public health, has not included its actual practice,” said Matthew Boulton, the school’s associate dean for practice. “We want students from the beginning of their time with us to see for themselves what needs to be done and how they can make a difference. I think this type of immersive learning experience is unprecedented among major public health schools and better prepares our students for the real world of practice.”

Students will get an insider’s perspective from health department and local community-based organizations.

Detroit Health Department Director Phyllis Meadows will provide students with the overall picture of how public health works in an urban area. HIV/AIDS, healthcare access, diabetes, teen smoking and drinking, childhood immunization, and obesity are among the public health issues impacting urban areas such as Detroit.

Eve Mokotoff, who leads the HIV/AIDS program for the state, will provide students with an understanding of how HIV/AIDS is being addressed in Michigan and particularly in Detroit. Rounding out the day will be a visit to the Warner/Conner Development Coalition and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., hearing about the issues of greatest concern to the city’s African American and Hispanic populations.

The goal: to start the academic year by familiarizing U-M students with the major issues impacting public health and introduce them to state and local leaders and their frontline work while strengthening the ties between the University and Detroit, where U-M was founded in 1817.

U-M researchers and students conduct numerous research and outreach efforts in the city on an ongoing basis but Practice Plunge is unusual since it involves inviting the entire incoming class of a school to participate at once, on their first official day as public health students.


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