Top-tier training, research and service opportunities will remain at the forefront for students in the West Virginia University (WVU) School of Public Health and the Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD) establish an Academic Health Department, reinforcing the School’s commitment to give students learning experiences based in real-world public health practice.
Dr. Jeffrey Coben, dean of the WVU School of Public Health, says the concept of academic health departments has been around for several years, emerging as practitioners began to think about the future of public health.
“There are local, regional and state health departments that are all actively practicing public health, then you have schools and universities training people in public health for future careers, but those entities aren’t always linked formally,” Dr. Coben said. “The idea of forming an Academic Health Department is to join forces between the practice and academic components of public health.”
In addition to providing students experiential learning opportunities, faculty are also given the opportunity to work with MCHD staff.
While the establishment of the Academic Health Department is new – made official with the signing of a formal agreement by WVU Health Sciences Center and MCHD leaders on Oct. 31 – the collaborative efforts between the two organizations are not, as noted by Executive Director and County Health Officer Dr. Lee B. Smith.
“We are thrilled to have achieved this designation,” Dr. Smith said. “This is the fruition of four years’ work that began with building relationships with various WVU colleges and schools, including the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy and the College of Law.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 29