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University of Missouri Addresses Public Health Workforce Needs

New Programs, Innovative Placements Help Keep Graduates in MO

The University of Missouri’s interdisciplinary Master of Public Health program was created in 2007 in response to workforce demand for trained public health professionals to fill a variety of vital roles in public health in the state of Missouri. Specifically, the Missouri Public Health Association (MPHA) has identified a need for Missouri graduates to fill roles in government public health in state, county and local public health systems. Since its inception, the MU MPH program has graduated nearly 400 students to help fill that need.

Of the MPH program’s Missouri students, half remain in Missouri to work after graduation. Further, thanks to an innovative internship program, MPH students are choosing to stay and work in the county and local agencies where they had their internships. In the last three years alone, this program has resulted in 45,600 hours of public health field placements in the state of Missouri and 40 interns served in 18 governmental health agencies.

Nick Kohlberg graduated from the MPH program in 2014, and is the Emergency Planner for St. Charles County, the same government public health agency where he completed his internship. Kohlberg said that working in government public health is a great way to serve a community. “I get to learn about new issues and public health threats and work with community partners such as hospitals, first responders, school districts, faith-based organizations and others to make sure we can prepare, respond and protect the public when emergencies arise.”

MPH graduate Jason Wilcox also works at the same agency for which he completed his internship. A Senior Public Health Planner for the City of Columbia since 2013, Wilcox recommends government public health as a career path. In local public health work, “you get a larger view of the public health system,” he explains. “It’s not just the work of the local health department, but the combined efforts of other public, private and volunteer organizations in the community.”

To further bolster the supply of trained public health workers, the university also launched a Bachelor of Health Science in Public Health degree program in 2017. Now available both on campus and online, this undergraduate program provides public health professionals an opportunity to complete a degree or pursue additional credentials to supplement their experience. The combination of the undergraduate degree, certificate programs and master’s degree all on one campus make for a well-rounded approach to public health education in Missouri that benefits the state – and also the global public health workforce.

Download the MPHFactSheet.