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Plan II Honors

Plan II Public Health Program

Plan II's Public Health Program was launched during the 2013-2014 academic year and is led by Professors Stanley Reiser and Alfred McAlister.  The Program is a cross-institution collaboration between The University of Texas at Austin Plan II Honors Program and The University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH - Austin Regional Campus). Approximately ten Plan II students will be accepted into this program annually.  Note: the 2017-2018 academic year will be the last year new students are accepted into this program.

Students who successfully complete the program will earn the Graduate Certificate in Public Health (awarded by UTSPH) a distinguished academic achievement for any student planning to pursue a career in the health professions, public health or social policy.  The credits earned in the certificate program may be applied toward a graduate degree at UTSPH (within five years of completing the certificate).  In addition, through the Public Health program students will complete one TC 358 Junior Seminar course and an undergraduate Thesis; both are required to complete the Plan II Major/BA Degree.    

3 Required Elements of the Program:

1. One TC 358 Plan II Junior Seminar – Topic: "Public Health, Medicine, and Social Policy."  The course is team-taught by Professor Alfred McAlister and Professor Stanley Reiser; offered each spring.

2. The five course sequence (16 graduate level credit hours) required to earn the Graduate Certificate in Public Health (offered by UTSPH online or in a classroom setting) requires tuition at the UTSPH. The cost is approximately $4000 over the course of the entire five course sequence for Texas residents.

3. The Plan II Senior Thesis (TC 660HA & TC 660HB), or an approved departmental thesis project, on a topic bearing on one or more of the issues in public health per se, or on the relation of public health to medical or societal problems, policies, disciplines, or institutions.

Plan II Public Health Seminar
Plan II Public Health Students learn about high level careers in public health and local health problems from Phillip Huang, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Austin Travis County Department of Health and Human Services.

Program Timeline for Plan II Students:

Fall of Junior Year:

  • complete the Plan II Application and submit in electronic format as a PDF file to Melissa Ossian
  • complete the online Application to UTSPH
    NOTE: To apply to the Graduate Certificate in Public Health at UTSPH, students must have 90 UT Austin credit hours, no GRE is required

Spring of Junior Year:

  • take the required TC 358 Junior Seminar course, Public Health, Medicine, and Social Policy
  • start Graduate Certificate coursework at UTSPH
  • obtain approval of your thesis topic from Dr. Reiser or Dr. McAlister
  • complete the thesis advising and registration process for Plan II, or the equivalent through your other major if doing a departmental thesis project

Summer of Junior Year: continue Graduate Certificate coursework

Fall of Senior Year: start Thesis and continue Graduate Certificate coursework

Spring of Senior Year: complete Thesis and Graduate Certificate coursework (if needed)


TC 358 Plan II Junior Seminar:
Public Health, Medicine, and Social Policy

Professors: Stanley Joel Reiser & Alfred McAlister

General Description: Maintaining health and treating illness have been transcendent matters for individuals and societies throughout history, spawning the creation of social institutions, policies, and professions to meet these significant needs.

This seminar explores, from historical to contemporary times, leading intellectual concepts, issues and events of this development.  It aims to provide a fundamental understanding of how health care is given and works, and what are its consequences.  To accomplish these goals the course content is as follows:

Weeks 1-3:  The Evolution of Medicine

Weeks 4-6:  The Development of Public Health

Week 7:  The Affordable Care Act: How It Will Change Healthcare

Week 8:  Smoking and Health: Confronting Habit, Commerce and Mortality

Week 9:  The Obesity Epidemic: Causes, Remedies and Policy Dilemmas

Week 10:  Disparities in the Health of the American Population: Origins, Costs, Consequences

Week 11:  Screening for Diseases: Benefits and Perils

Weeks 12-13:  Student Presentations

Course Requirements: A 10-15-page research paper, a 1-page reflection on each of the weekly readings, a 15-minute oral presentation based on the research paper, and class participation. All requirements will be equally weighed in determining the grade for the course.

Texts: Stanley Joel Reiser, Technological Medicine: The Changing World of Doctors and Patients.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.  This text will be accompanied by historical and contemporary articles that deal specifically with the multiple issues embraced by the specific topics to be considered in the course.

Curriculum for the Graduate Certificate in Public Health:

1. Foundations of Biostatistics (4 credits) – This course is designed as the first biostatistics course for students who have not previously taken a course in Biostatistics; this course is a designated core course for MPH students. This course introduces the development and application of statistical reasoning and methods in addressing, analyzing and solving problems in public health. Computer applications are included.

2. Fundamentals of Epidemiology (3 credits) This course introduces students to principles and concepts in epidemiology through lectures, discussions, assigned readings, and exercises. Students are given the opportunity to acquire an understanding of epidemiologic principles and concepts, the vocabulary of epidemiology, methods of epidemiologic investigation, and the design, interpretation, and evaluation of epidemiologic research. The emphasis is on public health practice of epidemiology, and this course serves as the core epidemiology course for most MPH students.

3. Introduction to Management and Policy Sciences (3 credits) This course surveys theory and practice in the management and policy sciences applied to the field of public health. Topics include: public health in the US health system/ legal bases of public health; public policy institutions and decision-making processes; methods of policy analysis, public sector institutions, management and decision-making; and private sector health care institutions, management and decision making.

4. Environmental Sciences (3 credits) – The major goals of this course are to develop a general awareness of how the man-made and natural ecosystem interact to affect health and the quality of life, review relevant principles from the natural sciences, and discuss issues influencing the solutions to environmental health problems. This will be accomplished through lectures, videos, class discussions, group activities, written assignments and examinations. (Students may take either Man's Impact on the Environment or Overview of Environmental Health to fulfill this requirement)

5. Social and Behavioral Aspects of Community Health (3 credits) – This course focuses on health problems and issues and public health methods that have a major social or behavioral component. It is intended for the student with little background in the behavioral sciences. The course will enable students to describe one or two core theoretical perspectives from each of the social science disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and their application to public health. The course will cover the major social and behavioral science models used in health promotion and disease prevention. The course will also cover existing social inequalities in health status related to race, social class, and gender, and the critical intersection between social risk factors, behavioral risk factors, and the development and implementation of public health interventions. The problems considered in this course will vary from year to year, but include topics with social and behavioral risks.

NOTE: Students have the option to take the five courses above online if preferred.  Tuition for UTSPH courses is separate from and in addition to UT Austin tuition.  For in state Texas students tuition is approximately $800 per class (pay as you enroll); the cost of the entire Graduate Certificate Program is approximately $4000.

UT School of Public Health, Graduate Certificate in Public Health Online Information 

About the Professors:

Stanley Joel Reiser is known nationally and internationally for his scholarship and teaching in ethics, history, technology assessment, and health policy. He received his undergraduate education at Columbia University, his medical degree from the State University of New York-Downstate Medical Center, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. He began his academic career at Harvard, where he was Associate Professor and founding Director of the Program in Medical History at Harvard Medical School, founding Co-Director of the Harvard Interfaculty Program in Medical Ethics, and Clinical Associate in Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. After twelve years at Harvard, he went to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where he was the Griff T. Ross Professor of Humanities and Technology in Health Care from 1982 to 2007, and held appointments in its faculties of medicine, public health, biomedical sciences, nursing, and dentistry. In 2007 Dr. Reiser went to Washington, D.C. to teach at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Care Sciences as Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, and of Health Policy. In 2012 he moved to Austin, Texas, where he joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, as Adjunct Professor. He remains on the faculty of the George Washington Medical School as visiting Clinical Professor.

He has written more than 120 books and essays, and is sole author on over 100 of them. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Annals of Internal Medicine, The American Journal of Public Health, The Hastings Center Report, The Scientific American, and The New York Times. He has given addresses at some 300 national and international forums and institutions.

Dr. Reiser has been involved in the creation four fields of health care: Medical Ethics, Technology Assessment, Institutional Values and Governance in Health Care Organizations, and the collaboration of Medicine and Public Health. His last book, Technological Medicine: The Changing World of Doctors and Patients, was published by Cambridge University Press in Fall 2009. This press also will publish the book he is now writing: From House Calls to Email: The History and Future of Health Care Delivery. It is scheduled to appear in 2015.

Alfred L. McAlister received his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 and his Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1976. Before returning to Texas in 1982, he taught for five years at the Harvard School of Public Health. As a faculty member at the University of Texas School of Public Health, he has received grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health and the Carnegie Corporation totaling more than seventeen million dollars. These have supported action-oriented and policy-related research and publications concerning cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention, HIV infection control, ethnic relations, homicide and collective violence. He has worked extensively in international public health projects, with twenty years of frequent service with the National Public Health Institute of Finland. Professor McAlister also has more than two decades of experience in public health programs with bi-national populations on the Texas-Mexico border. Leisure-time interests include modern South Texas folklore, fishing and coastal marine exploration. Raised in Austin, Professor McAlister is married to Marjatta McAlister and has three children.

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