Midwestern University Master of Public Health Program Celebrates First Graduates

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May 27, 2022 | Glendale, AZ

MPH Class of 2022 Members of the Midwestern University Master of Public Health inaugural class (L to R): Lela Remington, Natalie Kieffer, and Nisha Parasher (not pictured: Melia Pitney).

The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) Program in the Midwestern University College of Graduate Studies (CGS) will honor its first cohort of graduates this spring.

The program, established in 2020, has been operated as an online dual-degree program since its inception, providing the University’s osteopathic medicine, dental medicine, optometry, and veterinary students the opportunity to obtain public health knowledge and skills to join global healthcare teams that link human, animal, and ecosystems health management.

Four students from Midwestern’s College of Veterinary Medicine – Natalie Kieffer, Nisha Parasher, Melia Pitney, and Lela Remington – will be the first graduates to earn an M.P.H. degree from Midwestern along with their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degrees. For Nisha Parasher, the Public Health degree is a way to understand the connections between people, animals, and the environment. “I wanted to more deeply understand these connections while also widening my knowledge about the problems facing us as humans, including climate change and food insecurity,” she says. “As veterinarians, we promote the emotional health of people through fostering the human-animal bond and physical health through the prevention of zoonotic disease. My M.P.H. degree will make me a more informed and aware global citizen, and I am very lucky and thankful that I could do it concurrently with my veterinary degree.”

Ms. Parasher intends to use her public health knowledge to augment her planned small animal practice by reaching out to homeless and other underserved populations. “There is inequity experienced by these populations, and that includes the lack of animal care, exposure to zoonotic disease, and limited access to medical resources,” she explains. “I hope to use my knowledge to better educate owners on the relationship between their pets, their own health, the health of other animals, and the health of the environment.”

The benefits of studying in a multidisciplinary environment at Midwestern University will ultimately help her be a more rounded practitioner, Ms. Parasher believes. “All of my classes have had a mix of veterinary, osteopathic, optometry, and dental students and topics. We have collaborated on and discussed public health topics with everyone providing a different perspective. This experience has given me confidence to discuss public health with people from different backgrounds and the understanding of how to engage people from other sectors, which is important as the world becomes more interconnected.”

The Master of Public Health Program at Midwestern University empowers students with public health knowledge and skills that will expand their career opportunities in traditional clinical and public health practice, global health, and government service. Typical career paths include environmental health, food safety, epidemiology, zoonotic disease and vector control, health service management, and many more. Professionals with this level of training are in increasing demand, especially in urban and rural populations that are medically underserved. It is estimated that an additional quarter million public health workers will be needed this year.