By Linda Relyea | Adams State Communications

ADAMS State University will launch a bachelor of arts in public health this fall. The program aims to address the front-facing aspects of public health and will benefit students, professors, and community members.

Margaret Doell, associate vice president for academic affairs, explained that the degree program has been a community effort. “This has been in the works for three years. It was an effort to fill a need in the community,” said Doell. “We’ve been working on this for quite some time with a variety of local health organizations including San Luis Valley Health, Valley-Wide Health Services, and Alamosa County Public Health.”

Alongside the degree will be four new courses specifically in public health. The courses will cover rural public health, social determinants of health, foundations in public health, and a public health capstone course. The rest of the curriculum will consist of courses in business, kinesiology, health care, and social sciences.

The university will add faculty for this position. “Assuming it becomes a solid degree with good enrollment, we’ll look at adding a permanent faculty member with experience in public health, and we’ll also develop projects with local public health organizations,” said Doell.

Terry Dupler, Ph.D., director of the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, described the need for this degree program. “ASU decided to start the public health program to help address a shortage of employees in the health arena. The COVID pandemic has made it clear there is a shortage of public health officials and employees, not only in Colorado but across the United States.”

The degree program will also open up the option for students to transfer to a master’s program in public health, said Dupler.

Doell indicated that the degree program will prepare students for a variety of career paths. “Preparing people to be actively engaged in promoting health with the public, it could be anything ranging from a contract tracer for pandemics to someone who works in diabetic counseling. It’s really a degree with a broad choice of careers.”

A bachelor of arts in public health from Adams State is an ideal stepping stone toward a fruitful career in the health sector. Dupler says the degree will benefit students by providing another avenue into health care work.

“We have degree programs on campus now for students who want to pursue some health professions. This new degree will benefit the campus by increasing the offerings for incoming students, with the potential for increasing student enrollments within the undergraduate student population.”