Public Health Live on Tour gives COPH students first-hand experience

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Rather than taking a much-needed rest after finals this past semester, a group of committed students from the USF College of Public Health spent the beginning of winter break diving headfirst into the public health arena.

As part of this year’s Public Health Live on Tour, students were able to escape the classroom setting and expand upon their public health knowledge by visiting several public health agencies and facilities in the Tampa area.

The tour included visits to Metropolitan Ministries, DACCO Behavioral Health, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Facility.

As part of this year’s Public Health Live on Tour, students were able to escape the classroom setting and expand upon their public health knowledge by visiting several public health agencies and facilities in the Tampa area. The tour included visits to Metropolitan Ministries, DACCO Behavioral Health, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Facility.

Dr. Alison Oberne, a COPH alumna and instructor of the course, believes that the tour is a great complement to what students learn in class.

“For example, in the core course, students learn about the process of water treatment,” Oberne said. “However, during the tour students visited a water-treatment facility and saw each of the treatment stages.”

COPH students in the Public Health Live on Tour class pose for a group shot. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Alison Oberne)

“By visiting these unique sites, I was able to take the education I received in the classroom and use it in the field,” said Christiana Zimmer, a BSPH student with an interest and concentration in health education.

“Upon arrival to each site, we toured the facility, interacted with vulnerable populations, heard from public health professionals and engaged in interactive discussion,” Zimmer said.

One of the stops on the Public Health Live on Tour was Metropolitan Ministries. (Photo courtesy of Oberne)

Brandon Von, a public health undergraduate senior at USF, noted how public health seemed to find the professionals who worked in the field—rather than the other way around.

“We spoke with a former massage therapist, several nurses, a lawyer and a few people involved in the business aspects of their respective organizations,” Von said. “I found it surprising that these site representatives did not actually choose public health as their first career.”

This type of real-life experience helped students recognize issues that they may not have thought about in class and use what they learned in the classroom to brainstorm solutions to important public health problems.

The experience helped Von consider the role that proper teamwork plays in reaching many public health solutions.

“I believe that government, private organizations and [the general public] all need to work together to influence health care solutions and policy,” Von said.

Overall, the experience was extremely important to the students who were involved, helping them to develop many professional qualities and inspiring them to move on to careers in public health after graduation.

“Above all, this course was an unforgettable opportunity that has fueled [my] passion for public health as I continue my education,” Zimmer said.

Story by Cody Brown, USF College of Public Health

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