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Public Health to Create “Academic Health Department” with Salt Lake County

On June 15, the Division of Public Health and the Salt Lake County Health Department signed a cooperation agreement meant to strengthen the working relationship between the division and the administration of health activities in the county. The agreement codifies the interaction between the county’s efforts and the division, focusing on research, teaching, and public health practice.

As part of the agreement, the division will have an increased collaboration with the health department to bring the real world to the classroom and academic supports to public health officials and workers. Examples include joint seminars and symposia. Additionally, faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to work more directly with county officials, sharing office space and developing research projects that draw on expertise from both groups. This initiative will be very beneficial to students by formalizing internships and strengthening job placements for graduates.

The contract between Public Health and the Health Department is the result of the dedicated work of Public Health faculty and staff, particularly Kimberley Shoaf, DrPh, MPH and A. Blake Waters, PhD, MPA. Through their efforts, faculty in Public Health and across the department have substantially increased the ability of the department to make an impact on the possibilities of public health in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.

“This type of partnership, using the Academic Health Department model, has been a long-time goal of the Division of Public Health and health department leaders,” says Sharon Talboys, PhD, MPH. “While COVID-19 response took priority, our Division worked consistently with the county health department to move this initiative forward. You can expect to see a more practice-based focus of our teaching and research through this initiative.”