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Posted: 10/29/20

Pandemic Crisis Brings TAMIU’s Public Health Degree into Greater Focus

 

Dr. Iman Ridda
Dr. Iman Ridda  

The ongoing pandemic has changed so much…but it has also brought into much sharper focus the critical importance and role of public health. Now, an undergraduate degree in Public Health at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) is addressing that critical need.

TAMIU dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. Marivic Torregosa, said there was no better time for the University to strategically expand and maintain its leadership and legacy in public health here.

“With the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, no other time in our shared history has seen a greater need for public health professionals. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is honored to be able to continue its leadership and legacy in public health here by offering this degree,” Dr. Torregosa said.

TAMIU associate professor and director of the Public Health program, Dr. Iman Ridda, said the program, which started this Fall, has taken on added urgency and value.

“There are various public health issues impacting the lives of Texas citizens. These of course include the community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic -- but there are also ongoing communicable and chronic diseases; access to primary and preventive care, accidents and injuries, tobacco use, maternal and child health, environmental illness, mental health and substance abuse.

“To address these issues, public health efforts must be comprehensive and coordinated at different levels. Our area needs prepared and informed public health professionals who are able to respond to the population we serve in our community and beyond,” Dr. Ridda explained.

Ridda’s public health background has brought her to crises frontlines, providing TAMIU students with additional field and research insight.

She holds a Masters and a Ph.D. in Public Health from Sydney University , Australia. She also completed a Post-doctoral training as Clinical Fellow at the National Medical and Health Research Council. Ridda has a track record in outbreak investigation, social distancing, emerging and epidemic infections, vaccines and healthy aging and frailty.

She said her commitment to TAMIU’s program is focused on preparing graduates to have immediate impact, something that’s a clear prerequisite for the pandemic of today and the post-pandemic of tomorrow.

“TAMIU’s graduates will be equipped with competencies, knowledge, and skills that will help them to make an immediate impact on our community’s health through a curriculum that emphasizes hands-on, evidence-based learning to prevent disease and illness, promote physical and mental health and social well-being through practice, leadership, and applied research in public health,” Ridda noted.

She said the online nature of TAMIU’s Bachelor of Science in Public Health makes possible a flexible and robust multidisciplinary experience.

“Our completely online 120-hour program expands the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ long tradition of service to Public Health. We all work within a multidisciplinary framework to address acute and chronic health conditions here. We provide students from diverse disciplines, cultures, and backgrounds the opportunity to develop an inter-disciplinary perspective. This helps to better address determinants of health: health disparities, health care delivery systems and contextual/environmental factors -- and apply skill and knowledge learned to better develop innovative strategies to affect positive changes in health promotion,” Ridda offered.

The 42-hour core curriculum is carefully designed to include courses defining the broad practice of public health. It is intent on developing hands-on skills and cultural sensitivity addressed in part through community involvement, internship and applied research projects, she added.

Ridda said TAMIU’s broad-spectrum approach to public health also translates to wider career possibilities for program graduates.

“Their education and training at TAMIU prepares them for vast career opportunities that range from public service and education to industry/private settings and non-profits. In the public sector, careers are open for health department administrators, disaster preparedness officers and public nurses as well. There are also opportunities for epidemiologists, policymakers, sanitarians, and health promotion experts at federal, state and local agencies.

“Educational opportunities could include public health research and public health education, also at local, state and federal levels. In the industry/private arena, graduates could work for pharmaceutical brands, insurance companies and/or healthcare organizations. Finally, there are endless opportunities in the non-profit arena including, but not limited to, faith-based organizations and community centers, hospital systems and long-term facilities,” she concluded.

For additional information on the Bachelor of Science in Public Health, please contact Felipe Rodriguez, Academic Success Coach II by email felipe.rodriguez@tamiu.edu or call 956.326.3269.

In addition to an online RN to BSN degree, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers other nursing programs such as traditional BSN program, and BS programs in Communication Disorders and Kinesiology Health Science. A Masters in Nursing Administration (online), and an MSN Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program are also offered.