January 26, 2018
Photograph of a circle of people clasping hands in the middle of the group.

NWCPHP will help strengthen the collaboration between the UW Schools of Public Health and Nursing and Public Health — Seattle & King County.

NWCPHP will help facilitate the activities of a new Academic Health Department that encourages collaboration and resource sharing between the University of Washington and Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).

The UW Schools of Public Health and Nursing have formed an alliance with PHSKC to create an Academic Health Department to provide for increased training and opportunities for students, faculty, researchers, and staff of the participating organizations.

NWCPHP Director Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, said the new Academic Health Department moves forward NWCPHP’s efforts to build partnerships to improve public health practice.

“The Northwest Center for Public Health Practice’s mission is to promote excellence in public health by linking academia and the practice community,” she said. “How that plays out is by facilitating bridges, assuring that we are focused on building capacity, both with the University for practice, and with the practice community by leveraging the University resources and opportunities.”

The Public Health Foundation describes Academic Health Departments as a formal affiliation between a health department and an academic institution, similar to a “teaching hospital” affiliation between hospitals and medical schools, to train future health professionals.

The formal agreement between UW and PHSKC, which runs through August 2020, identifies goals, including advancing public health practice programs at PHSKC, and encouraging cooperation between PHSKC staff and UW faculty to fill academic and public health practice needs.

Expanded field placements and internship opportunities for UW students and greater collaboration to improve data quality and systems to improve the effectiveness of public health services are among the steps planned to reach the goals.

UW and PHSKC officials praised the creation of the Academic Health Department.

“Academic public health departments make for great collaboration. Our faculty and students can engage in meaningful service while being exposed to state-of-the-art public health work,” said Joel Kaufman, MD, MPH, interim Dean of the UW School of Public Health.

Azita Emami, PhD, MSN, RNT, FAAN, Executive Dean of the UW School of Nursing, said the agreement will boost training for student nurses. “Our school is undertaking major efforts to see that population health is an embedded part of every nursing class and clinical experience at every level. The Academic Health Department is integral to this effort,” she said.

“I look forward to strengthening our partnership with the University of Washington to enhance both public health and academic practice, including teaching, training, workforce development, and collaborative applied research,” said PHSKC Health Officer, Jeff Duchin, MD.

Patty Hayes, RN, MN, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, said the collaboration takes advantage of the expertise and experience of UW and PHSKC. “The end result is a stronger public health system that better serves the public to promote health and well-being,” she said.

NWCPHP is also engaged in an Academic Health Department with the Washington State Department of Health to expand connections with the public health practice community and encourage evidence-based public health practice.