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COPH summer program aims to build occupational health and safety careers

Fifteen college students from as far away as California are spending a week with local experts as part of the inaugural Summer Institute in Occupational Health and Safety.

photo of Summer Institute students

15 students are attending the inaugural Summer Institute.

USF is sponsoring the event, from June 10 to 15, through the Sunshine Education and Resource Center (ERC) at the College of Public Health, as a way of introducing students to the fields of occupational health and safety and the many opportunities for education and careers.

During the week-long event, students will hear from experts at both the USF College of Public Health and the Tampa Bay area and will tour local facilities to observe real-world applications of occupational health and safety, including James A. Haley VA Hospital, Lowry Park Zoo, and the Hillsborough County Water Reclamation Facility.

“We want to show students not only that this field exists, but that it is an important part of public health, and that there are great opportunities to further their education and to have successful careers,” said Rene’ R. Salazar, PhD, CIH, assistant professor at the USF College of Public Health.

Photo of Dr. Rene Salazar   

Dr. Rene Salazar, Dr. Thomas Bernard and Dr. Deanna Wathington presented to the group.

As an inaugural event, organizers weren’t sure what kind of response they would get. But the 15 openings filled up, Dr. Salazar said.

“We were very pleased that we capped out so quickly,” he said.

ERCs are funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to promote graduate training and research related to occupational health and safety. They train professionals on how to treat and prevent occupational illnesses, why illness occurs in the workplace, and how to make the workplace a safer environment.