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November 8, 2022

Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health Addresses Current Workforce and Community Needs

By Lois Elfman
Public Health

It has been predicted that, by the year 2030, there will be millions of healthcare job vacancies in the United States. This involves more than healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses and physician assistants. There is a broad range of occupations involved, from administrators to social workers to researchers who will address issues impacting public health.

“Public health has always been an important component of the healthcare system, and in recent years public health has taken on a greater importance as we try to prepare our healthcare providers in dealing with crisis issues that are clearly evident today,” said Dr. Allen Burdowski, Dean of Sciences and Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program at St. Francis College (SFC).

SFC already had a minor in public health, which had a great deal of interest. Adding a bachelor’s degree program in public health seemed a natural extension of the College’s health science programming, and it is a great launching point into a wide range of different professions. Also, in line with SFC’s Franciscan mission, it is responding to community need. Burdowski said Brooklyn is the perfect place for this program, with its great diversity and wide range of hospitals that impact different socioeconomic groups in New York City.

“We’re trying to fill a need in the New York City area, especially post-pandemic,” said Dr. Jennifer Lancaster, Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. “The healthcare industry, for a variety of reasons, took a huge hit, and we need to get some fresh legs and minds in that space to fill those spots.

“Think about what health means locally and globally,” she added. “It’s not just direct care with our nursing program or occupational therapy or physical therapy, but really focusing on wellness in the community.”

The B.S. degree program in public health prepares students with the knowledge and understanding of community and public health systems, issues and policies related to health promotion, health education and disease prevention in populations of all sizes. Students develop the competencies and skills necessary for positions in a variety of professional settings such as local, state and federal health and social service agencies, non-governmental and voluntary health organizations, healthcare and private industry.

“The ability to understand the issues of public health is important to professional development for nearly all healthcare providers and policymakers,” said Burdowski. “A public health background is essential for how we care for various populations.”

The courses will address healthcare disparities, and students will work with underserved communities. Students study social, behavioral, environmental and cultural determinants of health and engage in courses related to health interventions in settings that serve these communities. Burdowski said new courses have been added, including LGBTQ issues and vaccine education.

The Public Health major is available fully online as well as in the College’s standard face-to-face/hybrid format, which provides flexibility. There is an internship requirement, and Burdowski anticipates broad-based internship opportunities, including research, around New York City for students.

Students completing this degree would be eligible for and strongly encouraged to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.

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