Public Health and YOU

Public Health and YouThe Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington launched "Public Health & You," a new program aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of Indiana's front-line public health workers.

Designed specifically for professionals and practitioners whose work impacts the health of the public, the initiative offers free online courses that were developed in conjunction with the Indiana State Department of Health, IU Health Bloomington Hospital and the Indiana Public Health Association.

"The School of Public Health-Bloomington is committed to our long-standing partnerships with those who work each day to improve the health of Hoosiers," said Mohammad Torabi, founding dean and chancellor's professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "By providing these dedicated health professionals with these no-cost and community-focused tools, we not only help them enhance their knowledge and skills, but ultimately help all of us here in Indiana, because a better-prepared public health workforce means a healthier Indiana. A healthier Indiana means improved economic stability and enhanced quality of life for all Hoosiers."

According to the American Public Health Association, Indiana is one of the 10 least healthy states, with high obesity and smoking rates and low rates of physical activity. The state has one of the worst rates of cancer deaths per capita. In addition, public health funding is less than half of the national average.

"Critical to our mission at the School of Public Health-Bloomington is doing everything possible to help our community-based partners brush up on the latest public health trends and best practices, build the capacity of their organizations, and ultimately improve the health of their local communities,” said Michael Reece, associate dean for research and graduate studies at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.

The Public Health & You campaign, Reece said, also seeks to expand the reach of traditional public health to ensure that all of those who promote health on a daily basis can benefit from the work of IU and the School of Public Health-Bloomington.

"Thousands of individuals in the state, from such diverse organizations as traditional public health departments to fitness centers, churches, parks and recreation departments, and youth-serving organizations, provide important services every day that influence health," he said. "This set of easy-to-use online courses was designed in partnership with these individuals and is appropriate for anyone who wants to enhance their work to promote the health of those in their community."

The agencies and organizations that helped develop the courses will be among those using Public Health & You as a valuable professional development tool for their employees and affiliates.

"We will use the Public Health & You courses to increase awareness of the important role public health professionals play," said Carol Weiss-Kennedy, community health director for IU Health Bloomington Hospital. She worked closely with the school on the development of the initiative. "We see the series of courses as an important tool to promote the skills and responsibilities of public health with the hope of encouraging individuals to explore this area of study."

Currently, five courses are being offered, and the initiative will be expanded over time. Courses can be taken alone, or if all five are successfully completed, the participant can earn a Professional Development Certificate in Public Health from the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.