Expanding Access to Understanding Health Management and Policy through Online Learning

Rubyan online teaching

Michael Rubyan

Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy

Delivering public health courses online provides for a rich classroom experience with students from across the country and around the world. I have noticed that these students have a clear sense of the skills and tools they are looking for and their questions inspire deep levels of discussion. They come from a variety of professional roles contributing to interesting class discussions where they are able to apply what they are learning about the healthcare system, the policy making process, and organizational management. Our discussions have covered many areas including advocacy strategy through the lens of a legislator, structural racism in healthcare delivery through the lens of an ICU nurse, and hospital management through the interprofessional perspectives of a physician, dietician, and dentist.

I’m passionate about teaching health management and policy online because it provides the opportunity to increase access to public health for learners at different phases of their career, ensuring that public health education is both inclusive and equitable. I am able to reach our learners and teach in innovative ways in the online space. I approach my teaching holistically, working to blend all of the educational technology and tools available in the online environment to enhance learner engagement.

My course design integrates lectures, animated graphics, interviews, panel discussions, and interactive activities with careful planning of course structure to deliver the material in a succinct and organized way. Course content includes relevant readings and videos that help to encourage seminar style discussions where everyone can participate. This design also integrates my own research related to provider behavior change and community engagement interventions. My online MPH students have the opportunity to ask me detailed and practical questions about the research I’ve been a part of, and engage with it more deeply to develop their own skills in study design and implementation.

Central to my teaching, research, and practice is a focus on health equity and social justice. To demonstrate these principles to my students, I integrate examples of inequities in healthcare delivery throughout my video lectures as well as concepts connected to unconscious bias, culturally competent care, cultural humility, racism in healthcare delivery, and social justice in healthcare reform. Readings are selected from a diverse range of authors and scholars. Cases are presented to encourage students to consider implementation strategies that go beyond an awareness of inequity, and provide them with an opportunity to design practices and policies that foster greater inclusivity, equity, and justice. For example, one of my courses includes a partnership with a federally qualified health center in Southwest Detroit where students learn about insurance design, local, state, and federal government roles in public health, and financial management, culminating in the development of an advocacy strategic plan focused on expanding government funding to deliver more public health services.

The tools we use in the online classroom are paramount in creating a productive learning atmosphere. I am able to connect with, teach, and expose students to unique content in engaging ways that are supported by the online format:

  • Using Zoom to meet our students creates a space for them to engage in dialogue that applies what they are learning.
  • We use Slack to enhance the learning community experience and through different educational tools, students are able to present current events during the synchronous sessions using a range of multimedia options.
  • Assessments range from traditional exams and papers to simulations that leverage breakout rooms and allow for role playing and structured debate.
  • Guest speakers from across the country join the discussion including policy makers, legislators, community organization leaders, healthcare system and community health clinic managers. As a result, the learning community becomes part of the national and global discourse around health management and policy.

The online learning experience has empowered me as a faculty member to remove barriers for students, facilitate their connection to health management and policy, and cultivate a community of future public health professionals.  Students have shared that they carry the lessons they are learning from their courses into practice as they work to transform our healthcare system into one that is more equitable, just, and inclusive, reflecting the critical role that population health plays in building a healthy community.

About the Author


Dr. Michael Rubyan is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  He received his PhD in Health Services Organization and Policy from the University of Michigan and his MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Explore online master's degrees in Population and Health Sciences.

Learn about online graduate certificates related to Health Management and Policy.