APHA Affiliates Bringing Public Health Education to Undergrads

Article excerpt

A nationwide movement to bring public health education to the nation's 6 million undergraduate students is growing stronger, thanks to a pilot program launched this spring by APHA's Committee on Affiliates.

As part of CoA's new Connecting with the Colleges initiative, a handful of APHA-affiliated state public health associations are bringing public health professionals together with local colleges and universities. Efforts vary widely as Affiliate leaders sift through opportunities to foster public health education, but all share a common goal of developing undergraduate public health education in the classroom and in the community.

"Instead of one common approach, there are different approaches," said APHA member Marc Hiller, DrPH, MPH, who is leading the New England effort.

CoA's effort to bring public health professionals together with local colleges and universities is rooted in a 2003 Institute of Medicine report, "Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?" which recommended that all undergraduate students should have access to education in public health.

The United States is home to more than 100 graduate-level schools and accredited programs in public health, the majority of which already offer introductory public health courses to undergraduates. However, at least 1,900 U.S. undergraduate institutions are reportedly without schools or programs in public health.

"This is an activity ready to happen," said Richard Riegelman, MD, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services, who is working with the Affiliate initiative.

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"There are practitioners with expertise and faculty who are receptive at the universities, and students who are dying to get involved."

In New England, the Maine Public Health Association is joining in the effort, focusing on strengthening the public health work force, "and among those topics is the value and the importance of undergraduate public health education as a potential gateway for professional development for public health in the state," Hiller said. …