Monday, June 25, 2007

School of Public Health OK'd by UC Davis faculty

School of public health OK'd by UCD faculty

Daily Democrat
Article Created:06/22/2007 09:05:55 AM PDT

A proposal to establish a school of public health at UC Davis has moved one step closer to reality, having gained approval from the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, the campus's governing body of faculty members.

The proposal for the school, which would offer degrees in public health and in its core disciplines, has been sent on for review to the UC Office of the President and the UC Academic Senate, which represents faculty at all 10 UC campuses.

If endorsed, the proposal will advance for consideration to the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the Regents of the University of California, in a process expected to take at least a year.

"We're pleased to see the UC Davis faculty unite behind the proposed school of public health," UCD Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said. "With its expertise in agriculture and the environmental sciences and its proximity to the state capital, the Davis campus is uniquely positioned to meet the need for highly trained public health professionals that is so keenly felt by California's fast-growing and diverse population."

If approved, the proposed school would join the 37 currently accredited schools of public health throughout the United States, including four in California at UC Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego State University and Loma Linda University.

These schools educate and train health professionals who focus on the health and well-being of entire communities, groups and populations, rather than on individual patients, as they work to better understand and prevent diseases and injuries and to reduce the health disparities that exist among various groups and communities. Current public health challenges include issues such as obesity, infectious diseases, environmental hazards and natural disasters, and the organization and financing of health services organizations.

Today there are an estimated 450,000 public health workers nationwide, 45 percent of whom serve in government positions.

However, only 20 percent of the public health workforce has formal public health training.

"Recruiting public health professionals has been challenging, in part, because there is a limited pool of highly trained applicants," said Marc Schenker, a professor of public health sciences who is directing the school of public health planning effort. "UCD already has tremendous strengths in many public health-related disciplines. We are well situated to play a vital role in educating public health professionals, especially for rural communities, which are experiencing such an acute need."

The proposed school would be separate from, but working collaboratively with, the UCD School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine and other campus colleges and schools. Public health, as an academic and professional field, is noted for working collaboratively with public health practitioners and faculty from a variety of academic disciplines.

In the long run, the proposed school would supply California with graduates who have earned doctoral and master's degrees in public health and its core disciplines, as well as those who have majored or minored in public health during their undergraduate studies. The core disciplines include epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health education and behavioral health, and health services management and policy.

Its programs would be designed so that working professionals could pursue advanced training without leaving their current jobs.

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