Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health Receives $74,000 Grant from SUNY for High Need Public Health Careers

Aug 27, 2014

Demand for Public Health Practitioners Projected to Grow 21% Nationally

Brooklyn, NY – Interested in a career in public health?  SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s School of Public Health has received a $74,000 grant from SUNY's High Needs Program to address a growing shortage of public health professionals and to train new healthcare managers and health educators in the enhanced skill sets most in demand.

Downstate is one of 37 colleges and universities receiving High Needs awards for 2014. In announcing the awards, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, “The job training programs we are funding today provide students with the skills they need to succeed in some of the most rapidly expanding parts of the private sector – which also helps New York businesses find the talent they need to grow.”

“SUNY’s High Needs Program is just one way in which we honor our promises of economic and workforce development to New York State while educating and training our students in careers that will lead to their success after graduation,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

Downstate's program, called Open Doors, "will help New York State meet its workforce needs in public health and healthcare leadership," said Pascal James Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, MACP, dean and distinguished service professor, School of Public Health. "We anticipate attracting health professionals who wish to advance their careers by acquiring new skills; mature working people interested in changing careers; and recent undergraduates who wish to explore public health as a career option."

Downstate is the only SUNY campus in New York City to receive funding through the High Needs Program, which supports workforce development in high need career fields throughout New York State.

Occupations are considered "high need" if they are projected to have a large number of total openings, a high growth rate, or a combination of both in the coming years, based on New York State Department of Labor data. Nationally, employment prospects for health educators and community health workers are projected to grow by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022.

The High Needs grant will support a variety of innovations in Downstate's Open Doors program, including an online hospital simulation that students will use for their coursework. The grant will also help support a student recruiter and a consultant with expertise in state-of-the-art online teaching.

"Chronic diseases are the most pressing public health problem today," said Karen Benker, MD, MPH, associate dean for community public health affairs and principal investigator for the grant. "There is an immediate and growing need for health educators who can address these conditions by working with individuals, communities, healthcare systems, and the media – especially in underserved areas with health disparities."

Also driving the need for public health workers is the Affordable Care Act, which is creating new organizational models requiring new skill sets and a demand for individuals trained to understand complex health organizations.

Initially, the Open Doors program will offer four new Advanced Certificate programs, each consisting of five courses, some of which will be entirely online and some blended (part online, part face-to-face). Individuals attaining Advanced Certificates will be able to later apply credits to an MPH degree. The new programs are:

Advanced Certificate in Health Education
Advanced Certificate in Health Care Management
Advanced Certificate in Healthcare Quality and Outcomes Management
Advanced Certificate in Population Health and Disparities

The program is expected to be ready for launch in academic year 2015-2016.


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.