UC Launches Public Health Undergrad Degree

Responding to demand, nine UC colleges join forces to prep students for a career in public health
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Third-year UC student Olivia Heltman took part in Project Bududa, Uganda, with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.

When the University of Cincinnati opened enrollment for its first undergraduate degree program in public health, third-year UC student Olivia Heltman was elated. Heltman said she had gone through a “roller coaster” in terms of what she wanted her future career path to look like — medicine or law — but knew for certain, after a trip to Uganda in 2019, that the foundation of her future life’s work would be public health.

“In considering what most people think of when they hear the title ‘public health official,’ I think that this definition has changed following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Heltman, whose vision is to earn a bachelor’s degree in public health and pursue a complementary doctorate in medicine thereafter. “I now believe people understand the importance of public health and have a greater respect for individuals in this role.” 

Heltman is a prime example of why UC officials launched the program. Classes will begin this August, and students will be able to work toward either a bachelor’s or associate degree in public health. The university already has a master’s degree program in public health, established in 2008.

“As a premier urban public research institution, our purpose is to educate, engage, and enhance the global community. The time is now, in the midst of a global pandemic, to pull together the expertise of UC’s renowned faculty from multiple colleges to launch the university’s first bachelor's degree in public health,” said Kristi Nelson, UC’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. 

The program, however, isn’t just for pre-med majors such as Heltman. It will prepare those aspiring graduates for careers as public health administrators, practitioners, analysts, epidemiologists, and a multitude of other public health-related careers. 

“As part of this program, students are able to select from a diverse offering of electives, both online and in the classroom, across multiple colleges as a part of this degree,” said Regan Johnson, assistant professor at UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH). Johnson will serve as director of the degree program.

Additionally, public health entities such as the American Heart Association (AHA) will provide student internship opportunities. 

“These internships provide robust, real-world experience to prepare graduates to be future leaders in the public health field,” said adjunct professor Angelica Hardee, vice president of health strategies at the AHA. 

The charge to advance the degree program, UC’s Johnson says, was based on analysis of labor statistics and rapidly increasing opportunities for growth in the public health sector.

According to Johnson, their findings bear out that the demand for public health career opportunities will increase by 5.78% over the next 10 years, with average earnings of $60,900 annually. Select occupations in public health, she said, are expected to experience growth to an even greater extent. Those select occupations include health education and counseling (16.2% growth), project and program managers (8% growth), and health care administrators and managers (20.5% growth). 

Coordinated through the College of Medicine, the on-campus degree program – both as a major and minor – will focus on awareness of emerging issues in public health, the social and behavioral aspects of preventing disease, environmental health concepts, the changing U.S. health care system, and the monitoring of diseases in the community. 

The bachelor’s degree also will be offered online, coordinated by UC Online, providing the broadest possible access to students of all backgrounds and living throughout the U.S. 

“We have combined the best strengths of each of the participating colleges at the university into a combined single effort to create these very strong and competitive programs in public health, which will be wonderful additions to our growing master’s degree public health program,” said Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and dean at the College of Medicine. 

“The current pandemic certainly has amplified student interest in public health and the need for public health professionals in communities throughout the country.”


UC Blue Ash offers new program in high-demand medical specialty


The University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College is offering a new online program that prepares students to earn a certificate in a high-demand medical specialty in just one year.

The Computed Tomography certificate program is accepting students for the fall 2021 semester at UC Blue Ash. Computed Tomography is better known as CT, as in CT Scans, which are used to identify a variety of illnesses or conditions.

“Computed tomography is relied on to help physicians diagnose lesions, abnormalities, and fractures,” said Julie Gill, radiation science technology program director and professor of allied health. “This certificate program prepares medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals for the fast-paced environment in CT. We’re excited to provide this educational opportunity.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for CT technologists will grow by 12% by 2026, which represents an above-average growth rate compared to all occupations.

The CT certificate program at UC Blue Ash is for professionals in the radiation science field (includes radiologic technology, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine) who want to advance their career. Graduates of the program will be eligible to apply for the CT certification exam offered by the American Registry of Radiation Technologists.

The curriculum is designed to be completed in two semesters (one year), but students may spread it over two years if they choose. Students may also apply all CT course credits toward the Bachelor of Radiation Science Technology (BRST) program at UC Blue Ash, which is also 100% online and was recently ranked as one of the top BRST online programs in the nation by Best Health Degrees.

The deadline to apply for the fall semester at UC Blue Ash is July 1, 2021. More information on the program is available online or through the Allied Health Department at 513-936-7162.