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[August 18, 2014]

Peace Corps Master's International Program Established at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health

Program Is First of Its Kind in New York City and Offers Great Potential to Address Global Health Disparities



SUNY Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health is now participating in the Peace Corps Master's International Program (PCMIP).

The program allows individuals interested in serving in the Peace Corps to combine their overseas experience with graduate studies.  Downstate’s program is the first PCMIP established in New York City and is one of only 16 PCMIP programs – out of 158 such programs – that focus on public health.

The highly competitive partnership places Downstate in company with such schools as Johns Hopkins, George Washington University, and Tulane.

Interested students simultaneously apply to the Peace Corps and the Master’s International Program. A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree can be earned with a concentration in Community Health Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, or Public Health.

Most volunteers admitted to the program will spend one year completing course work at SUNY Downstate, followed by 27 months immersed in an overseas assignment. During this time they will also perform their required practical field experience of 200 hours under the preceptorship of Downstate School of Public Health faculty. “This will enable participants to meaningfully function in public health and other healthcare settings in their host countries,” said Pascal James Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, distinguished service professor and dean of the School of Public Health.

Downstate’s PCMIP was facilitated by a unique partnership between the State University of New York and the Peace Corps – the first ever such alliance between the Peace Corps and a university system. Downstate’s is the fifth PCMIP established at SUNY schools under this arrangement. The others are at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; SUNY Oswego; the University at Albany School of Public Health; and the University at Albany Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

“We believe SUNY’s PCMIP offerings will be broadly attractive to students who wish to combine Peace Corps service with high quality graduate education at an affordable price,” said Sally Crimmins Villela, assistant vice chancellor for global affairs. “Connections with Peace Corps volunteers during their service offer extensive possibilities for research and curricular enhancement.”

Dr. Imperato concurred:  “The PCMIP greatly expands the global health reach of our educational, research, and service missions, and provides an excellent opportunity for Downstate and the Peace Corps to collaborate in recruiting individuals with a strong interest in global public health and service to disadvantaged populations.”  

Downstate’s PCMIP complements several existing Downstate global health programs administered by the School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health. These include:

The Global Health Elective in Developing Countries
Provides opportunities for fourth-year College of Medicine students to observe, study, and participate in public health programs in developing countries. One of the largest and most successful such programs in the nation, to date more than 400 students have participated in this elective in 41 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Oceania.

Global Health Practical Field Experience for MPH Students 
Funded by Sanofi-Pasteur, MPH students perform their required practical field experience overseas. The program, currently functioning in South Africa, India, and Jamaica, is expanding to other countries, and sets the model that Downstate’s PCMIP students will follow.
  
Global Health Pathway in the College of Medicine  
A four-year, mostly online experience organized by the School of Public Health for College of Medicine students. Part of Downstate’s new Integrated Pathways curriculum in the College of Medicine.  

Advanced Certificate in Global Health 
A 15-credit certificate program whose course content focuses on Global Health.


A call for applications to PCMIP is expected to be issued in early 2015, with the first students to begin courses in the summer and fall semesters of 2015.

The Peace Corps is a volunteer organization operated by the U.S. Government. It was established in 1961 by then President John F. Kennedy. The essential mission of the Peace Corps is to foster world peace and friendship. It achieves this mission through assistance in many domains in disadvantaged countries. These include economic and community development, assistance with controlling  pandemic diseases, fostering gender equality, improving educational systems, and addressing issues affecting climate change. Volunteers serve a period of 27 months, the first three of which comprise in-country orientation. To date some 215,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 countries. 

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SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks eleventh nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.

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