The University of Missouri is working to increase the number of researchers who use a patient-centered and community-engaged approach to their work by launching a new online graduate certificate in participatory health research.

"When researchers, community members, social welfare experts and health care administrators work as partners to conduct research projects, there is an increase in meaningful change and forward progress," said Maithe Enriquez, MU Sinclair School of Nursing associate professor.

"Former U.S. Surgeon General David Stacher has said that this type of research methodology holds the key for getting to the root cause of health disparities," Enriquez said.

The new online graduate certificate in participatory health research will create more health care professionals who are able to not only improve outcomes in their clinical settings, but also influence health care policy, Enriquez said.

In-demand skills

The 15-credit-hour program is designed for professionals in social work, nursing and public health who want to acquire research skills to expand and grow their careers.

 Students in the online program will apply research methodologies that health care systems and health research institutions value most:

  • Community-based participatory research (CBPR) – a partnership approach to research in which various stakeholders contribute expertise and share decision-making.
  • Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) – a methodology that involves health care consumers and caregivers, helping them communicate and make informed health care decisions together.
  • Clinical effectiveness research (CER) – the direct comparison of health care interventions to determine which work best for which patients.

Enriquez said the graduate certificate can be taken in addition to a student’s current graduate program of study in medicine, public health, nursing, social work or other areas. In-service professionals who seek to enhance their skills also can enroll in the certificate program.

“Students are going to pick up valuable skills and expertise in community-based, patient-centered and clinical effectiveness research,” she said. “They also can grow their professional networks while continuing their education, which is something all licensed health care professionals are required to do.”

Four MU academic units are working together to offer the course work for this online graduate certificate: the School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, the School of Social Work, the School of Health Professions and the Sinclair School of Nursing.

Academic requirements

MU is now accepting applications for the online graduate certificate in participatory health. All course work is 100-percent online: no campus visits are required. Students who take two classes each semester can finish the 15-credit hour program in one year.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree to be admitted to the program. GRE scores are not required for application. Apply by July 15 to begin course work in the fall semester, which starts August 21.

Learn more about the online graduate certificate in participatory health research and how to apply

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