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Three new graduate programs in health given go ahead by Board of Trustees

by Karen A. Grava - February 5, 2007

The Board of Trustees last week approved three new programs: a Ph.D. in public health with a concentration in occupational and environmental health sciences; graduate certificates in six nursing specialties; and a master of science degree in clinical and translational research.

The Ph.D. in public health is designed to complement a Ph.D. in public health with a concentration in social and behavioral health sciences that was approved last year.

The environmental program is interdisciplinary and will build on long-standing collaborations between UConn and the Connecticut departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection.

"Qualified public health workers are in short supply in Connecticut and these shortages adversely affect the capacity of our workforce to respond to emerging public health programs," said Provost Peter J. Nicholls.

"The need for workforce development is reflected both in personnel shortages and in the small proportion of the overall workforce with doctoral training in public health. There is a need for additional professionals to fill senior-level positions, particularly those skilled in the occupational and environmental dimensions of health and illness."

The program will use 20 faculty members from the Storrs and Health Center campuses, and will use space not only in Storrs and Farmington but also at the Center for Public Health and Health Policy in East Hartford, Nicholls said.

Also approved was a program to offer a certificate in nursing to students who already have master's degree.

The certificates would allow students to practice in specialty areas different from their original areas of preparation, without earning a second master's degree. 

The six areas of emphasis include community health, neonatal nursing, patient care service system administration, psychiatric mental health, acute care of the adult, and primary care of the adult.

E. Carol Polifroni, interim dean and associate professor of nursing, said Connecticut's nursing shortage is the second worst in the country.

The new certificates will not produce new nurses, she said, but will allow nurses to expand the scope of their jobs.

The trustees also approved a master of science program in clinical and translational research to be offered at the Health Center.

The new program is designed to train academic specialists who will develop new approaches to the translation of basic science findings into clinical research, and from clinical research to community-based applications, Nicholls said.

The program will focus on the preparation of individuals with terminal degrees in health-related fields who want to conduct independent research in the translation of information from the basic sciences to the community as researchers, teachers, public health administrators, clinicians, and industry employees, he said.

All three programs need approval of the state Department of Higher Education.

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