Public Health Insights and Inspirations
UHCOP, Houston Health Department Program Provides UH Undergraduate Students with Training for Emergencies, Guidance in Diverse Education and Career Tracks
August 30 — Aiming to help refill the professional ranks of an aging workforce and better prepare for potential new waves of public health emergencies, the Cougar Health Research Academy (CHRA) – a collaboration of the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and the Houston Health Department (HHD) – recently completed its second year of training and educating UH undergraduate students on public health practice and prospective careers in the field.
Nearly a dozen students from an applicant pool of more than 50 completed this year’s program, which concluded with a graduation ceremony Aug. 10 at HHD’s administrative headquarters. The month-long program covered 120 hours broken into two phases.
Taught by PHOP faculty members of the UH Institute of Community Health (ICH), the first phase included lectures focused on the areas of epidemiology and biostatistics, communication and motivational interviewing in health research, and a roundtable discussion on current public health challenges in the U.S.
The second phase was facilitated by HHD public health professionals. With a more hands-on experience, students learned basic training on epidemiology and disease reporting, public health preparedness and disaster management, immunization and more.
"The CHRA presented me with a comprehensive and extensive evaluation of public health from multiple perspectives," said CHRA graduate Raul Caballero Montes. "I now have a full picture of the many fields and expertise within public health, and I am well aware of the steps I must take to further specialize in the field of public health I choose."
In addition to applicable skills in public health, the program graduates each receive a $1,000 stipend. ICH faculty will continue to mentor students during their undergraduate studies and future careers.
"Prior to this program, I had very little knowledge on what public health stood for and in what ways they were of benefit to the community," said CHRA graduate Aisha Yahaya. "I am very pleased to say that with the conclusion of this program, I have been able to experience first-hand the outlook and mind that public health professionals have towards promoting and ensuring that the health of the community is their top priority."
The CHRA is the brainchild of E. James Essien, M.D., DrPH, UHCOP professor and ICH director, and Osaro Mgbere, Ph.D., M.S., MPH, epidemiologist-biostatistician and program lead of Grants, Research, and Special Projects in the HHD's Disease Prevention and Control Division's Bureau of Epidemiology. The program has received back-to-back Cougar Initiative to Engage (CITE) grants from the UH Office of the Provost.
“I am proud that the Cougar Initiative to Engage has supported the Cougar Health Research Academy with two CITE grants," said CITE director Anne Dayton, Ph.D. "This innovative program has provided two cohorts of students with real-world experience in public health."