10 things to know about the Jefferson College of Population Health

Philadelphia is a city of beginnings. Not only is it considered the birthplace of American democracy, but it is also the location of the nation's first and only college devoted to the study of population health.

Population health is different from public health. The term "population health" was coined over 35 years ago by David Kindig, MD, PhD. The phrase encompasses three core concepts: health outcomes that are distributed in the population, how these outcomes are based on social determinants and the impact of public policies on the outcomes and determinants.

While public health is what society collectively does to ensure healthy conditions, population health is concerned with the determinants and factors that influence health over one's lifetime.

Here are 10 things to know about the Jefferson College of Population Health.

1. The Jefferson College of Population Health is part of Thomas Jefferson University. TJU was formally established in 1969, but its roots date back to the founding of Jefferson Medical College (now the Sidney Kimmel Medical College) in 1824. The university is in Center City Philadelphia and educates more than 3,900 students.

2. TJU is a health sciences university. "All we do is healthcare," says Founding Dean David B. Nash, MD, MBA, about the university. Of the 140 academic medical centers in the United States, only seven are organized in a similar fashion — dedicated solely to the education of health professionals.

3. The Jefferson College of Population Health is one of six colleges within TJU. In addition to the College of Population Health, the colleges include the Jefferson College of Nursing, the Jefferson College of Pharmacy, the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, the Jefferson College of Health Professions and the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences.Dr. Nash 2

4. The idea for the Jefferson College of Population Health originated in 2007. Robert L. Barchi, MD, PhD, the president at that time, administered a campus-wide strategic plan for Thomas Jefferson University. The plan prompted a recommendation to form a new academic entity that would encompass public health, health policy and healthcare quality.

In October, Dr. Nash, who was serving as chairperson for the Department of Health Policy at Jefferson Medical College, was asked to write a business plan for the new entity. In July 2008, the board of trustees unanimously voted to support the creation of the Jefferson College of Population Health.

5. The Jefferson College of Population Health opened its doors in 2009. Established in July 2008 as the Jefferson School of Population Health, the first day of school for students was September 9, 2009. It was renamed as Jefferson College of Population Health as of July 1, 2015.

6. Dr. Nash, founding dean, has been with TJU for 25 years. Dr. Nash, who was named founding dean in 2008, is also the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy. A board-certified internist, he has experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. He has edited 23 books and serves as editor-in-chief of four major national journals.

7. Five master's degree programs and one doctoral degree program are available. The Jefferson College of Population Health offers master's degrees in applied health economics and outcomes research; healthcare quality and safety; public health; population health; and health policy and a doctoral degree program in population health sciences. While the CEPH-accredited Master of Public Health (MPH) program is offered on campus in a traditional classroom setting, the other four programs are strictly online.

8. Today, the Jefferson College of Population Health has just under 300 students. The college utilizes a part-time model because virtually all of its students work full-time. Since many of the classes are strictly online, students from over 30 states and several foreign countries are able to enroll. Following graduation, students take on a variety of roles in the healthcare field, including CFO, CMO and CNO. "Our students have every job description in healthcare," says Dr. Nash. "They're everywhere doing everything."

9. The college employs two types of faculty members. Core faculty members are on campus full time and are responsible for the curriculum. The College's adjunct faculty members and instructors, known as practitioner faculty, have extensive professional experience and expertise in their fields.

10. The Jefferson College of Population Health and Rutgers University-Camden (N.J.) recently signed an affiliation agreement. The agreement, which was signed in June, facilitates priority admission of Rutgers students to the Jefferson College of Population Health's Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program. Graduating Rutgers bachelor's degree students who meet certain qualifications have a place in the Jefferson College of Population Health program and will be considered for merit-based scholarships.

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