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Saint Francis University helps to bridge public health workforce gap

March 28, 2012

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), the public health field is experiencing significant labor shortages. The public health workforce is diminishing over time; there were 50,000 fewer public health workers in 2000 than in 1980. ASPH estimates that 250,000 more public health professionals will be needed by 2020. Workforce shortages, along with global concerns such as pandemics, natural disasters, environmental issues, and rising healthcare costs, are contributing to the growing gap between the demand for public health professionals and a qualified workforce.

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), the public health field is experiencing significant labor shortages. The public health workforce is diminishing over time; there were 50,000 fewer public health workers in 2000 than in 1980. ASPH estimates that 250,000 more public health professionals will be needed by 2020. Workforce shortages, along with global concerns such as pandemics, natural disasters, environmental issues, and rising healthcare costs, are contributing to the growing gap between the demand for public health professionals and a qualified workforce.

In order to help bridge the public health workforce gap, the public health major has been added to Saint Francis University’s quality healthcare programs. This four-year baccalaureate degree will prepare students to help fill the growing demand for professionals in any number of exciting and rewarding public health careers. The degree may also serve as the foundation for further graduate study, training, or future careers in law, political science, medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary sciences.

Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and coordinator of the public health major at Saint Francis, says, “At this time in our history, public health professionals are more vital than ever. They are crucial elements in addressing the world’s many complex health concerns: from addressing the burden of disease to minimizing the consequences of disasters and fighting for healthcare equity. This is why our new public health major is so significant. It is essential that we build our public health workforce now.”
To celebrate the addition of the new Public Health major, and to raise awareness of the important role public health plays in protecting health and safeguarding lives, Saint Francis is joining the national “This is Public Health” campaign. The campaign was designed to build awareness of the many ways in which public health impacts each and every one of us on a daily basis.

The campaign will begin on March 27, in connection with National Public Health Week (NPHW), which begins April 2, 2012. Since 1995, communities around the country have observed NPHW annually to focus public attention on the important role of public health in safeguarding the public against health crises including contagious and preventable diseases, food and water borne illnesses, and natural disasters.

“We want to be sure that Central Pennsylvania residents know that ultimately, public health is your health,” said Dr. Douglas Southard, dean of the School of Health Sciences and director of the public health major at Saint Francis. “The ‘This is Public Health’ campaign allows us to illustrate the many ways in which public health touches us all every day.”

As part of Saint Francis University’s participation in the “This is Public Health” campaign, the University is inviting members of the Saint Francis community to submit photos or videos of the removable campaign stickers, placed on visible examples of public health in action. Submitters will be eligible to win one of many exciting prizes. For information on public health and the new public health major, please visit http://www.francis.edu/PublicHealthatSFU.htm or call the University's School of Health Sciences at 814-472-3075.