159 degrees were awarded in undergraduate and graduate level public health disciplines on Sunday May 28 at the 249th Commencement ceremony at Brown University. Members of the audience at the ceremony have supported their children, grandchildren, wives, friends, and family members for years as they worked toward this graduation, but many still weren’t sure. What is public health?
[Photo: Dean Terrie Fox Wetle, Credit: Mr. Peter Goldberg]
Dean Terrie Fox Wetle, in her final Commencement address as Dean, talked about public health and what it is like to have a rewarding career in this field. “Simply stated, the goal of public health is to protect and improve the health and well-being of populations through the art and science of preventing disease and promoting population health,” she said. “Population health is described as the health outcomes of a group of individuals throughout the lifespan. Thus, population health encompasses the very beginning of life — prenatal, maternal, and child health—to the infectious and chronic diseases of middle age — to the care of our oldest populations.”
[Photo: Ms. Ewo Harrell MPH’17, Credit: Mr. Peter Goldberg]
Whether it’s smoking cessation, healthy sexual behaviors, seat belt use, or access to clean drinking water, “the increases in life expectancy over the last 100 years are largely due to public health efforts,” she said.
The 2017 Public Health graduates know all about these efforts, and then some. They know how to identify, measure, and compare health outcomes, and how to analyze huge amounts of health data. And they know how to apply this knowledge to the promotion of population health and the prevention of disease. From traumatic brain injury to hepatitis C, from diabetes to HIV, these remarkable graduates, across 11 academic programs, have made their own contributions to increased life expectancy, while acquiring the skills to become public health leaders.
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