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July 14, 2004

Maryland Honors MPH Graduate for Creating PHASE Program

Dipti D. Shah, MPH, a 1999 graduate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will receive the 2004 Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Performance Excellence Award for Innovation for creating and implementing the Public Health Applications for Student Experience (PHASE) Program. The program allows students to gain experience and first-hand knowledge in the public health workforce while earning their degrees at the School. Shah will receive her award this summer.

Shah, an epidemiologist with the Maryland DHMH’s Office of Epidemiology and Disease Control Programs, explained that the PHASE Program was developed with DHMH and the Mid-Atlantic Public Health Training Center out of a recognized need for graduate students to gain more practical experience.

She said, “If I had had this type of experience while in school, the pairing of academics with practical application would have definitely enhanced my learning of public health. In addition, staff members at DHMH also benefit from having the students working with them and generating valuable information from their internship projects.”

The PHASE Program was initially established for students in the Department of Epidemiology interested in communicable and infectious disease topics. Last year, five students interned at DHMH, working on SARS, tuberculosis, rabies and animal bites, acinetobacter outbreaks in acute care settings and the incidence of Shigella in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Three of the students were able to use their PHASE internships as a basis for their Capstone project, which is a requirement for graduation for MPH students. Next year, the internships will be expanded to also include students from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Internships related to chronic diseases and maternal and child health are also expected to be added.

Michel Ibrahim, MD, MPH, PhD, an adjunct professor in the School’s Department of Epidemiology and the faculty advisor and course director for PHASE, said, “PHASE has provided an extremely valuable field experience for our students. They have been able to understand and appreciate how a health department tackles real world problems. Dipti has brilliantly managed the process on behalf of the Department of Health and provided clear guidance to all involved. We are fortunate to have Dipti champion this effort.”

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.