Public Health Degrees in Connecticut: Keeping Connecticut Healthy
Connecticut’s public health professionals are a diverse group. They have advanced skills in areas such as health promotion, epidemiology, and health policy. Many, but not all, have education at the master’s or doctoral level.
Select a Connecticut Public Health Topic:
- Connecticut Health Challenges and Goals
- Public Health Employment
- Public Health Degree Options in Connecticut
- Connecticut State and Local Public Health Departments
- Additional Information: Contacts for State and Local Agencies, Education Options & Other Helpful Resources
Connecticut Health Challenges and Goals
The work that went into Healthy Connecticut 2020, Connecticut’s version of the national Healthy People 2020 initiative, is illustrative of just how broad the public health field is (http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3130&Q=542346&PM=1).
The Department of Public Health has provided two 100+ page documents, one assessing the status of Connecticut health, the other setting goals. Connecticut’s health challenges and goals are grouped into seven focus areas:
- Chronic disease prevention and control
- Maternal, infant and child health
- Health systems
- Mental health, alcohol and substance use
- Environmental risk factors and health
- Infectious disease prevention and control
- Injury and violence prevention
The state has collected and analyzed huge amounts of data. Among the goals that were set are the following:
- Increase the percentage of parents who use developmental screening tools that meet standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Increase the percentage of adults with incomes under $25,000 who have seen a dentist during the prior year
- Decrease the rate of preventable hospitalizations
Interested individuals can visit the Healthy Connecticut 2020 dashboard to view the state’s progress toward meeting its goals.
Among the successes: Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of children under six determined to have blood lead levels of five micrograms per deciliter or higher declined from 6.6% to 3%.
Healthy Connecticut 2020 boasts many partners and organizations, including governmental units, hospitals, and various nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Among them are the following:
- Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut
- Central Area Health Education Center
- Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition
- Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
- Connecticut Commission on Health Equity
- Connecticut-Rhode Island Public Health Training Center
- Saint Francis Hospital, Center for Health Equity
- Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Southern Connecticut Chapter
- Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging
- University of Connecticut, Connecticut Area Health Education Center Network Program
Public Health Employment
A 2016 public health job search turns up a number of positions open to public health professionals at the graduate level. Below is a sampling:
Research Associate for the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center: Responsibilities include implementing surveys and focus groups, mining and analyzing data, and managing projects — all in support of reducing accidents and improving highway safety. The position is master’s level; epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health are cited as possible degrees.
Health Education for Wesleyan University: Duties include designing educational programs that help students make healthy choices, training student groups and leaders, supervising peer health advocates and student interns, and chairing the alcohol and drug committee. The position is master’s level. Like many administrative positions, it also requires progressively responsible experience.
Director for the Health Disparities Institute: Responsibilities span research, policy, outreach and engagement, and education. This position is doctoral level.
A public health job search also reveals some positions at the intern or fellowship level: Among them are ‘Global Health World Fellow’, a person who is expected to hold a bachelor’s degree at the time of engagement, and ‘Wellness Coordinator Intern’, a person who may be a current bachelor’s or master’s student.
Public Health Degree Options in Connecticut
Public health programs are multidisciplinary, combining social sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, and management and policy. They may have any of many concentrations. Strong master’s programs incorporate real-world experience.
Connecticut students have many options for earning their public health degrees. They may opt to take classes online or attending class at a physical location in Connecticut or a neighboring state. Connecticut has a number of public health programs. Several programs are available through state universities; students can pursue generalist MPH tracks or study health promotion at the bachelor’s level. There are also several joint degree options. The bulk of the state’s programs, though, are housed at Yale. Concentrations include public health modeling and chronic disease epidemiology, among others. MPH-MSN, MPH-MD, and MPH-MDiv are among the joint degree options. The Connecticut Department of Health, notably, employs several professionals who hold both MPH and MD degrees; one edits Connecticut Epidemiologist.
A nationwide search will reveal many possible concentrations – and many very competitive programs. Students may search on the website of the Schools of Public Health Application Service (http://sophas.org). Schools that appear on the SOPHAS website participate in a national centralized application service; there are some public health programs that do not use SOPHAS.
Connecticut State and Local Public Health Departments
The Connecticut Department of Public Health oversees public health at the state level. Among the major divisions are the Community, Family and Health Equity Section, the Environmental Health Section, the Drinking Water Section, and Public Health Systems Improvement.
The Community Family and Health Equity Section is comprised of a number of units, including Injury Prevention, Chronic Diseases, Epidemiology, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology, and Adolescent and Child Health, among others. The Epidemiology Unit analyzes data from various sources, including hospital discharge data and data from tobacco use cessation programs, the Connecticut School Health Survey, the behavioral risk factor surveillance system, and the death registry.
Among the responsibilities of Public Health Systems Improvement are establishing a performance management system, providing quality improvement training and coaching opportunities to public health professionals, administering a program that provides grants for biomedical research, and taking steps toward national accreditation.
Connecticut boasts three local health departments that hold accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board. They are the Stratford Health Department, the Naugatuck Valley Health District, and the Norwalk Health Department.
The Connecticut Public Health Association is the state chapter of the American Public Health Association.