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Faculty Rounds

Public health program debuts

Rebecca Garner

The nation's rapidly aging population, coupled with a growing emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, is spurring demand for public health professionals trained in injury prevention, wellness, and disease control.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 250,000 job openings for public health professionals by 2020. The public health field encompasses a variety of roles, including health educators, health policy analysts, and industrial hygiene officers.

The College of Nursing and Health Innovation has responded to this demand by creating an undergraduate track in public health. Classes began in fall 2016. Initially, students will receive a bachelor's degree in exercise science with an emphasis in public health.

"This track addresses two overarching issues," says Rebecca Garner, clinical assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the program. "One is to train a diverse and competent public health workforce and the other is to help students develop an appreciation for population health, creating an informed populace."

The College expects to transform this program into a stand-alone bachelor's degree in public health by fall 2017 and to introduce a master's in public health within the next five years.