USF gets $8M in federal awards to train Florida's public health workforce

Tampa, FL (Sept. 24, 2010) — The University of South Florida College of Public Health this month received two federal grants totaling $8-million to help train Florida’s public health workforce — making the college a key player in preparing the state to mount effective public health responses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the college $4.75- million over five years to establish a center that will enhance the emergency and disaster preparedness of state and local public health workers. USF was one of 14 accredited schools of public health nationwide – and the only one in Florida — to be funded for a Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center. Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the University of North Carolina are among the other schools that will be part of the nationwide network.

The Health and Human Resources Administration awarded the college a five-year, $3.25-million grant to support a Public Health Training Center that will assess the learning needs and further develop the knowledge and skills of the state’s current and future public health professionals. USF was one of 27 accredited schools of public health and other public and non-profit institutions across the country – the only one in Florida – to receive such an award.

“Investing in a well-trained public health workforce is vital to the health and welfare of our communities and state,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, dean of the USF College of Public Health. “These new grants will help insure Florida’s public health system is ready and able to effectively respond to public health threats — whether it’s disasters like hurricanes, chronic conditions such as obesity, or emerging infectious diseases.”

Both of the new federally-funded training centers will be based in the USF College of Public Health’s Office of Public Health Practice. The grants come at a critical time for Florida. Over the past few years, cuts in Florida Department of Health staff and restricted travel budgets have increased the need for accessible, cost-effective training and support. The need is even more pronounced when factoring in the aging state workforce.

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