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Arnold School of Public Health


I Am Public Health: Andrew Jones

February 1, 2017

Andrew Jones received an excellent education at Dartmouth College while he studied biology as an undergraduate and then at the University of Massachusetts where he earned a medical degree. He continued his training with a residency in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at Maine Medical Center and three years of private practice at an outpatient primary care center in New Hampshire.

But despite all of those years of education and training, Jones knew there was something missing—a public health/prevention perspective. “While working in primary care, I became increasingly aware that similar ‘upstream’ factors were contributing heavily to the onset or worsening of many chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, for my patients,” he says. “Many of these were what I later learned were social determinants of health—a term I had not been exposed to in medical school or residency.”

I chose this particular program because it offered a great mix of academic and applied experience in public health and would allow me to continue clinical work in primary care.

-Andrew Jones, General MPH Student and Preventive Medicine Resident

Jones’ growing awareness of the role of public health, coupled with an interest in quality improvement, led him to pursue further training in preventive medicine. The Palmetto Health-University of South Carolina Preventive Medicine Residency, a two-year program in public health and general preventive medicine and the only accredited preventive medicine program in South Carolina, offered a unique option.

“I chose this particular program because it offered a great mix of academic and applied experience in public health and would allow me to continue clinical work in primary care,” says Jones. “I also found key faculty easy to relate to during the interview process.” Another deciding factor: the state’s high rates of chronic disease also offered ample opportunities for working to combat these public health threats.

I would recommend the core elements of the training to anyone in medicine, especially those focused on primary care and population health.

-Andrew Jones, General MPH Student and Preventive Medicine Resident 

Residents develop skills in clinical preventive medicine, epidemiology, public health practice, quality improvement, program evaluation, research, and health policy. They also earn a general Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the Arnold School of Public Health, which includes core courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health promotion, education, and behavior, and health services policy and management. [The general MPH degree can also be earned outside the residency program. It has been developed for those with a medical degree or considerable professional experience in the health care field.]

I would actually characterize preventive medicine as a hidden gem because the skill set it develops and experience it offers are so fundamental and applicable across a wide range of career paths,” Jones says, noting that even many medical professionals have limited knowledge of the field. “We focus on prevention and mitigation of disease and injury on both the population level as well as for individuals. It combines clinical medicine with academic and applied training experience in core topics of public health, such as epidemiology and biostatistics, health behaviors, health policy and administration, and environmental and occupational health. I would recommend the core elements of the training to anyone in medicine, especially those focused on primary care and population health.”

I experienced a fundamental frame shift in the way I thought about health behaviors for both individuals and communities.

-Andrew Jones, General MPH Student and Preventive Medicine Resident

While the program overall has helped shape his emerging perspective, he credits two public health courses (both taught by Arnold School Associate Dean for Operations and Accreditation Lee Pearson) as being particularly influential. “Dr. Pearson taught two of the best classes I have ever taken across my undergraduate and graduate studies,” says Jones of the “Concepts and Methods in Health Promotion” and “Planning Health Promotion Planning” courses led by Pearson. “I experienced a fundamental frame shift in the way I thought about health behaviors for both individuals and communities. Understanding how to construct a program rooted in well-honed theories and ‘sell’ the product as a good investment also taught me how to advocate for the change I want to see happen.”

After completing his program in May of this year, Jones will return to practicing primary care while focusing on quality improvement. He is looking for a setting that supports community-clinical linkages, which he describes as a closer collaboration between healthcare (especially primary care), public health, and community-based organizations to improve community health.

“In moving the needle on health outcomes while slowing or reversing growth in healthcare costs, such collaborations have already shown tremendous impacts,” Jones explains. “I hope the policy and payment environment will continue to support such vital work that improves the lives of individuals and communities.”