SAU’s proposed Public Health degree program could start fall 2018

SAU is responding to an increasing demand for healthcare degree programs by working to add a Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree.

If the Arkansas Department of Higher Education approves the proposal this spring, the new program will take effect in fall of 2018. The College of Science and Engineering is currently reviewing applications for an assistant professor of public health position, according to Interim Dean Dr. Abdel Bachri.

“The SAU Public Health program will serve to produce a trained public health workforce and will focus on disease prevention and the promotion of good health in the community, which can be achieved by connecting the community to the formal health and human service systems while providing informal counseling and support,” Bachri explained.

Examples of public health careers include first responders, health educators, restaurant inspectors, scientists and researchers, food safety experts, nutritionists, community planners, social workers, and epidemiologists. Work environments could include public health departments, non-governmental agencies, environmental health, hospitals, insurance companies, health care management organizations, and health care accrediting agencies.

“Public health is one of the few degrees for which graduates are able to work in numerous roles and different areas,” said Bachri. “It is widely believed that most of the job growth in the future will be in the healthcare industry.”

This belief is supported by a 2014 report by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the Beaumont Foundation that showed public health being one of the fastest growing undergraduate majors in the U.S.

SAU’s Public Health graduates should not have to travel far to find meaningful employment as Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi rounded out the bottom three states for worst overall health in the 2017 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report published by the United Health Foundation. Arkansas, ranked 48, has seen a 16 percent increase in obesity rates over the past five years (from 30.9 to 35.7 percent). Diabetes rates climbed 21 percent, from 11.2 to 13.5 percent, in adults. In the Clinical Care category, Arkansas ranked 47.

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