GSPH and Drexel University Partner on $3.2 Million Project to Train Public Health Professionals

To ensure public health professionals are well-trained to meet the nation’s diverse health needs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $3.2 million to GSPH to create the Pennsylvania Public Health Training Center (PAPHTC).

The five-year grant funds a partnership among GSPH, Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, that will provide training to help counteract the impact of a shrinking public health workforce, which is anticipated to reach crisis proportions in the coming years. In Pennsylvania, only six counties and four cities have full-service public health departments that represents less than half of the state’s population.

“With diminishing resources, staff and state funding for public health, workers have been required to do much more with less,” said Maggie Potter, JD, principal investigator of the grant and associate dean and director, Center for Public Health Practice, GSPH. “These increasing demands make training and support more important than ever by enabling public health workers to provide essential health services in the communities they serve. We are fortunate and grateful to have the support of the Health Resources and Services Administration to meet this demand.”

PAPHTC staff will develop partnerships with community-based organizations and health departments to provide training in management, health communications, program development and evaluation, and public health law and policy. PAPHTC also will provide organizational development services such as strategic planning and quality improvement.

“We are thrilled with this investment in our public health system,” said Jennifer A. Kolker, MPH, PAPHTC co-principal investigator and assistant professor, Drexel University School of Public Health. “This award marks the first time that the Commonwealth is truly anchored by public health training centers at both ends of the state, providing us with the ability to invest in and strengthen our public health workforce. A strong public health infrastructure can translate to healthier communities across the Commonwealth.”

Drexel will contribute to the PAPHTC effort statewide with a particular focus on southeastern Pennsylvania and build on the school’s commitment to public health practice and relationships with local health departments and public health leaders, she added.

“At a time of ever-increasing health care cost, prevalence of chronic and life-style modifiable diseases, emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention through a trained public health work force is a step in the right direction to improve health outcomes in our state and country,” said Youmasu J. Siewe, PhD, MPH, PAPHTC project manager and director, Center for Rural Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The PAPHTC center is one of 27 accredited Public Health Training Centers being funded by HHS over the next five years. The PAPHTC project director is Linda S. Duchak, EdM, associate director, GSPH Center for Public Health Practice.


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