In a unique partnership, Wabash College and the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) will collaborate in an effort to educate Wabash students about the role of public health in communities, and to promote public health as a potential career path for the students.
The partnership builds on the work of Wabash’s Global Health Initiative, but on a “global-local” level. Students will work directly with Health Department staff in a wide range of activities.
“Our partnership with Wabash College has allowed us to expand our public health efforts in Montgomery County on multiple fronts,” said MCHD Administrator Amber Reed. “Programs like our mosquito breeding surveillance would simply not exist. As much as the students gain experience during their internships with us, this community is ultimately the true beneficiary. It is a true win-win partnership.”
Wabash students will intern at the Health Department during the academic year and over the summer. These internships will be managed by both the MCHD and Wabash to enable current students to gain practical experience in Public Health, and to prepare them for graduate programs and the workforce. Health Department personnel will, from time to time, present public health lectures on the campus as part of the Global Health Initiative’s Lecture Series and its interdisciplinary course on Global Health.
“In our preliminary conversations about our Global Health Initiative, it was Wabash alumnus Bob Einterz, founder of Indiana University’s Kenya Partnership and AMPATH program, who encouraged us to think locally as part of our larger public health conversations,” said Wabash President Gregory Hess. “From that moment on, our advisory committee began to think of ways our students could benefit from — and contribute to — local public health issues. We are pleased with this partnership.”
Jill Rogers, Wabash’s Pre-Health Advisor, now coordinates the students’ involvement in local public health efforts. Wabash students involved in the Global Health Initiative worked in partnership with the Health Department to conduct research that led to the Community Health Improvement Plan, which was unveiled during the Community Health Summit hosted by the Montgomery County Wellness Coalition.
“Wabash College continues to look for ways to engage with our community,” Rogers said. “Our partnership with the Montgomery County Health Department has been a powerful cooperative venture, offering students opportunities to learn about local public health issues and providing the health department with some additional assistance to implement important local programs, such as mosquito monitoring and control, and educational campaigns. Wabash and the Health Department are excited to continue working together to better the health of our local community and educate students about public health.”
Wabash students who work with the Montgomery County Health Department are exposed to all aspects of public health, and are allowed access to issues ranging from septic failures and new installation to Methamphetamine Lab Remediation. “Students have helped to rewrite county ordinances, job descriptions, and educational materials,” Reed added. “Without a doubt Montgomery County is better due to their efforts, and hopefully they have a better understanding of how the environment impacts the health and wellness of all individuals.”