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OSU’s latest online program is a remedy for public health workforce issues

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is answering the call of state officials – and addressing a nationwide need – by introducing an online Graduate Certificate in Public Health, designed to provide flexible training opportunities for industry practitioners.

Crowded streetA statement from the Association of Schools of Public Health shows that nearly 25 percent of the nation’s public health workforce is now eligible to retire, and OSU officials say there is a shortage of capable workers in the field to fill the impending void.

But the new certificate program, developed by OSU’s College of Health and delivered online by OSU Ecampus, helps remedy the situation by offering professional development and a pathway to new career opportunities for public health practitioners.

The program launches this fall.

“We had specific requests from the Oregon Health Authority and local practitioners to provide this certificate because county health administrators need a strong foundation in public health,” said Tom Eversole, the College of Health’s project director of strategic development. “That is precisely what this program provides.”

OSU is home to the only college of health in the state, and its 20-credit certificate program focuses on the field’s five core areas: epidemiology, health promotion and behavior, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, and health management and policy.

Eversole says the Ecampus online curriculum even enables business professionals, attorneys and others outside the field to make themselves more competitive in a global workplace.

“The focus of our work is really about people working in communities to help populations become and stay healthy,” he said. “The scope of the education draws a strong emphasis from behavioral and social sciences that are critical to addressing the population-based health needs of the future, especially around issues of obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”

All of the online courses are developed and taught by OSU faculty, regarded as national and international experts in the field and whose teaching examples are informed by their own public health research.

And with the workforce shortfall expected to exceed 250,000 professionals during the next decade, the demand for expertly trained practitioners has never been greater.

“There has been a lot of interest in public health of late, and people are looking for creative ways to address the needs of our society – asking how we can help people prevent disease and lead a healthier life,” said S. Marie Harvey, a College of Health professor and the associate dean for research and graduate programs. “Quality of life is important, and public health helps people make changes that will help them and others live in a healthier environment.”