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Potential Approaches to Address the Undergraduate Public Health Training Needs for Working Professionals: A Case Study of One Rural Area

Martin, Brian C. PhD, MBA; Stoots, J. Michael PhD, MBA; Pack, Robert P. PhD, MPH; Wykoff, Randy MD, MPH, TM; Dreyzehner, John J. MD, MPH, FACOEM

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: March/April 2010 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - p 128–133
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181c8cb37
Article

The leadership of several health districts in the rural Appalachian region of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia has expressed interest in addressing the educational needs of their employees. The majority of these workers have not completed an undergraduate degree, but they desire to further their education. The College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University has begun preliminary discussions with these leaders to identify potential approaches to address these needs. There appear to be four approaches that should be explored by regions facing similar challenges: on-line or on-line/on-site degree completion programs; course clusters provided for academic credit; partnerships with community colleges; and training programs offered for nonacademic credit.

This study focuses on a significant need for additional training for public health workers in rural regions.

Brian C. Martin, PhD, MBA, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Administration, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

J. Michael Stoots, PhD, MBA, is Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

Robert P. Pack, PhD, MPH, is Associate Dean, Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, Department of Community Health, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

Randy Wykoff, MD, MPH, TM, is Dean, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

John J. Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, is Director, Cumberland Plateau Health District, Lebanon, Virginia. He is also a member of the Workforce Strategic Direction Team of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Corresponding Author: Brian C. Martin, PhD, MBA, Department of Health Services Administration, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, PO Box 70264, Johnson City, TN 37604 (martinb@etsu.edu).

The authors thank Cumberland Plateau Health District (Virginia); East Tennessee Regional Health Office; Mount Rogers Health District (Virginia); LENOWISCO Health District (Virginia); Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office; and Sullivan County Regional Health Department (Tennessee). Special thanks to Paige Lucas, MPH, Epidemiologist, Cumberland Plateau and Health District (Virginia), for survey development and data analysis.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.