Our Public Health SA

A Repository of Information

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What is Public Health?

Apart from the standard definitions, explaining public health to students can be like explaining to a young bird about to fly the coop (and all excited about flying and meeting his mates in the sky) that he should think about the outcomes of the flock; the evidence for flying in a particular formation; the need to cooperate with other birds and to explore the impact of climate and aviation etc on their destinations. So it can get complicated and result in further confusion and/or just dismissal of the concept.

Below are a few examples of what others use to explain the concept.

Video (uploaded on Apr 27, 2008)

This video was created for the THIS IS PUBLIC HEALTH campaign for the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). The campaign consists of 40,000 stickers, 17 schools and a simple microsite that combines a Flickr group with Google Maps


The University of Minnesota created online games to teach public health concepts. University of Minnesota


Using known frameworks like the “Liverpool Seven Pointers toward a population perspective on health” (Maudsley G. Liverpool: The University of Liverpool; 2005. Medical students’ expectations and experience as learners in a problem-based curriculum: a ‘mixed methods’ research approach; p. 407. Doctor of Medicine (MD) thesis, Public Health/Medical Education), the discipline of public health can be applied to most health problems.

Virtual textbook

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) created a virtual textbook to explain and illustrate public (population) health concepts and their application to clinical medicine. http://phprimer.afmc.ca/

Key text

Providing students with articles about public health initiatives and discussions either before or after a lecture allows them to review, discuss and compare.

Panel discussion

Drawing on their experiences, public health experts/professionals can share different perspectives on the topic. This allows students to ask questions and also engage with people that have embarked on public health careers.


Population Health vs. Public Health. What's the difference? Panel discussion presented by the Health Policy and Management Association at the University of Pittsburgh.
This on demand panel discussion focuses on the differences and similarities between traditional public health work and hospital-based population health initiatives spurred by the Affordable Care Act. The discussion addresses new opportunities for collaboration between public health and health care entities.

Field trips and electives

Depending on the size of the class, students can be exposed to a variety of workplaces and environments where the application of public health can be demonstrated. Appropriate permissions to some of these areas must be obtained.



There are long lists of movies that demonstrate the discipline of public health. The movie can either be shown followed by a discussion thereafter or, it can be preempted by a brief introduction that covers key concepts/scenes to look out for, including questions to stimulate thinking.

Links to these lists include:

Please watch the movie before showing it to students!