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Commonwealth Public Health Training Center graduates first class

Story Date: Tue, 22 May 2012 09:55:00 EDT

Eighteen students received their Public Health Leadership certificate in Richmond last month as part of the first graduating class of the Commonwealth Public Health Training Center (CPHTC). The graduates included family medicine residents and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) trainees from across the state.

Started in 2010, the CPHTC was created by the EVMS/Old Dominion University Graduate Program in Public Health in partnership with EVMS Family and Community Medicine through a $2.5 million five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.

"The performance of the first group of Commonwealth Public Health Leadership Certificate trainees confirmed our hopes and plans," says David O. Matson, MD, PhD, Co-Director of the CPHTC and Professor of Health Professions and Pediatrics at EVMS. "The work considered and accomplished in teams of employees from the Virginia Department of Health and Family Medicine Residents from Virginia was significant."

The CPHTC brings together graduate programs in public health, the VDH, the Virginia Public Health Association and all family medicine residency programs in the Commonwealth to address health inequities and strengthening the public-health infrastructure. The center also focuses on global health concerns deemed to merit greater research attention.

Through partnerships between academic centers and public-health leaders in the state, trainees study health issues that typically are not the focus of high-quality research. Because collaboration is essential for effective public-health efforts, center trainees work in teams - including groups conducting global-health research.

"The biggest impact that this program had on me was learning that a physician need not confine herself to just one patient at a time in a clinical setting, but can make a greater difference by reaching out to a bigger group of people in a community," says Family and Community Medicine Resident Elizabeth E. Villarico, MD.

Dr. Villarico worked with a team on a Public Health project at Tazewell High School that used a peer-directed campaign to encourage tobacco cessation and prevention. As a result, students at Tazewell initiated a successful "National Smoke and Spit Out Day" campaign on their campus, and produced a two-minute video that was shown at the school.