Undergraduates get their first taste at improving the health of the community

Undergraduates get their first taste at improving the health of the community

SPHIS Undergraduates at the Gray Street Farmer's Market

The university’s first undergraduate public health students had an opportunity to take part in the Gray Street Farmers Market during Welcome Week activities. Those who participated received a free shopping bag and five-dollar token to make a healthy purchase. They also toured the classrooms and offices of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

More than 50 students consisting of freshmen, second degree seniors, and transfers from within UofL or other institutions have chosen public health as their major, with an almost evenly divided selection of the bachelor of science and the bachelor of arts degrees.

The school launched the degree programs this year in an effort to meet the national shortage of trained public health professionals.

According to the Kentucky Institute of Public Health Practice Enhancement, more than half of the state’s public health workforce lack formal education in the profession’s essential core functions. To underscore the concern, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is calling for additional training opportunities to strengthen public health worker competencies.

On a national scale, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health estimates an additional 250,000 public health workers will be needed by 2020. Meantime, the public health workforce has diminished, with 50,000 fewer workers in the year 2000 compared to 1980.

The bachelor’s degrees will prepare students for positions in specific sectors of public health, health services and public policy, with career opportunities in policy change, community engagement, global health, maternal and child health, disease surveillance, non-profit management, health promotion, health care administration, health services research and environmental health. Examples of job settings could include colleges and universities; local, state and federal health agencies; consumer advocacy organizations; consulting firms; health service delivery organizations; and community and international non-profits. The school’s undergraduate programs also will prepare students for advanced degrees in public health, law, medicine, nursing, and dentistry.

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