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Educating the Next Generation of Public Health Practitioners

This fall, new undergraduate Public Health majors at the University of Washington will begin their training with a course co-taught by NWCPHP Director Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett.

This fall, new undergraduate Public Health majors at the University of Washington will begin their training with a course co-taught by NWCPHP Director Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett.

September 16, 2014

It’s that time of year again—when a certain crispness returns to the air, leaves begin turning colors, and classes kick off on college campuses across the nation. This fall, University of Washington School of Public Health undergraduates will have the opportunity to take the newly revised SPH 380: History and Practice of Public Health, a course co-taught by NWCPHP Director Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH and Suzinne Pak-Gorstein, MD, MPH, PhD, Co-Director of Global Health Pathways at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Said Kwan-Gett, “The course uses a historical perspective to introduce the field of public health and to delve into some of today’s key public health issues.”

For example, London’s cholera outbreak in 1854 will lead into discussions of epidemiology and public health surveillance. Class sessions cover all public health disciplines, as well as cross-cutting topics such as community health advocacy, community collaboration and empowerment, health care reform, health communication, and evidence-based practice.

Part of the University of Washington School of Public Health’s undergraduate program, SPH 380 overviews key public health issues and teaches students how to apply critical thinking skills for promoting the health of communities, domestically and globally. Students will each choose a community to plan a community health assessment, examine the social determinants of health, and design a policy or built-environment intervention.

The School of Public Health recently took a more formal role in coordinating undergraduate public health training. Under the School's direction, the program has greatly expanded, with 168 new students enrolled this fall. A new integrated curriculum and core courses have also been developed.

As the director of an organization that interfaces with many public health agencies, Kwan-Gett is keenly aware of workforce training issues, and he is excited to apply his own practice experience to training a new generation of public health workers.

“Most people working in public health today didn’t even have the option of studying public health as undergraduates,” said Kwan-Gett. "Imagine the strength of the future public health workforce once successive cohorts are trained."

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