Tips for Teaching Public Health

May 23, 2021


Public health promotes and protects the health of people and communities through societal efforts. Similar to how a physician treats those who are sick, people in the public health industry work to prevent people from becoming sick in the first place. They also encourage wellness and healthy behaviors. 


Some of the main public health fields include:

  • First responders
  • Health educators
  • Nutritionists
  • Social workers
  • Restaurant inspectors
  • Researchers and scientists
  • Public policymakers
  • Epidemiologists
  • Occupational health professionals
  • Sanitarians
  • Public health physicians and nurses 


Why Teaching Public Health Matters 

Degrees in public health provide students with a strong foundation in matters that impact population health and healthcare systems, including:

  • Environmental health
  • Global health
  • Behavioral and cultural issues 
  • Health informatics
  • Ethics
  • Disease prevention


Preparing students for future careers in public health is critical to the overall function of society and gives students access to a variety of rewarding career paths.


5 Tips for Teaching Public Health 

Here are several techniques that will make teaching public health courses both easy and engaging:


1. Personalize Lessons and Examples

Public health isn’t just about others: it’s also about learning how to live your own life to the fullest. When students learn practical techniques for living a healthy lifestyle, they can put them to use in their own lives. 


It’s important to choose curricula for public health courses that focus on personal health as well as communal health and encourage self-reflection and growth at every turn. 


2. Embrace Differing Opinions and Experiences

The key to creating a safe and interactive classroom is to cultivate healthy discussion. When educators step away from lecturing to open up the room for discussion, students learn how to think critically about and truly internalize the subject matter. 


A thoughtful exchange of ideas can challenge assumptions and bring nuance to the complex topics of public health classes. Make a point of encouraging a variety of opinions, even if you need to step in occasionally to refocus the conversation or correct any misconceptions. 


3. Use Real-Life Examples

Public health isn’t about abstract concepts — it’s about real people and their well-being. 


After complex topics are explained, take some time to show how they relate to the real word. Whether the examples are from current events or your own life experiences, moving beyond theory and into practical application is crucial to teaching public health. 


One effective way to execute this is by inviting a public health professional into the classroom to speak with students and answer any questions they may have. 


However, you’ll do your students a disservice if you stick to examples they’re familiar with. In order to enlarge your students’ framework of issues, be sure to use examples from cultures and societies that may be foreign to them. 


4. Include Games and Simulations in Your Curriculum

You might think that using games as an interactive teaching technique is only useful for younger students. However, one study showed that when traditional lectures were replaced with games, college students reacted positively. 


Incorporating games into your public health curriculum can provide the following benefits for your student:

  • Increased motivation
  • Greater student participation
  • Improved collaboration skills
  • Stress relief
  • A more nuanced understanding of the public health topics involved


Whether you’re an educator looking for helpful games for students or a student looking for more engaging ways to learn course material, consider trying out a virtual simulation game, such as one that involves a pretend outbreak. 


In games like this, students can apply their investigative skills in order to discover the source of an outbreak and stop it before more people fall ill. They often introduce key public health roles and careers and can help students put their learning into practice in a fun and interactive way. 


5. Incorporate Student Feedback 

Every class — and every student — is different. For this reason, it’s ineffective to use the same public health curriculum for every class without making any adjustments. This is especially true when it comes to online learning. 


The best way to ensure you’re reaching a given class is to ask for feedback and find ways to incorporate it into your teaching


Try offering a midterm check-in in the form of a short survey. This will clarify what aspects of the course need adjusting. Here are some example questions you may want to include:

  • On a scale from 1–10, how is the course going for you? Explain.
  • What is one aspect of the course that you found effective?
  • What is one aspect of the course that can be improved?


How We Can Help

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that public health is an immensely important field. However, teaching the subject can sometimes prove daunting. 


At Caduceus International Publishing, we’ve crafted a Personal and Community Health course that optimizes the success of students and professors alike. Including relatable and engaging content, an easily accessible LMS, and highly interactive course materials, the course covers a wide variety of topics that relate to public health. Check it out today.  


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