Dr. Paula Masters, assistant dean of student services, and Dr. Megan Quinn, assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology of the College of Public Health, have co-authored an article with Dr. Kimberly Glenn, director of health statistics for the Tennessee Department of Health. The article, “Alignment of Epidemiology Practice and Academic Competencies through Effective Collaboration,” is published in Frontiers in Public Health. It highlights the importance of collaboration and benchmarking academic offerings against the needs of the workforce.
[Photo: Dr. Paula Masters (above) and Dr. Megan Quinn]
In 2015, the Tennessee Long-Distance Internet Facilitated Educational Program for Applied Training in Health (LIFEPATH), a workforce development partnership at East Tennessee State University, and the Tennessee Department of Health partnered to build three online, asynchronous epidemiology modules for an interdisciplinary audience of graduate students. The recognized need for trained and competent epidemiologists to enter public health practice spurred the collaboration.
Topic-specific modules were used within the infectious disease, chronic disease and cancer epidemiology courses and piloted during the 2015-2016 academic term. They were aligned with both curricular competencies developed by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and with practice competencies developed by Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. The team decided that this learning product would be provided back to the Tennessee Department of Health for possible future use.
The authors conclude, “The innovative partnership between a state government agency and an academic institution has demonstrated the need for such collaborations in public health. Understanding how applied public health practice would utilize what is learned in the classroom and preparing students for real-world application may be the missing link between theory and practice.”