UIC Establishes New Coordinating Center for Public Health Practice
According to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), public health practice is the strategic, organized, and interdisciplinary application of knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to perform essential public health services and other activities to improve the population’s health. For many years, the UIC School of Public Health (SPH) has envisioned creating a system of coordination and communication between the practice and academic communities that maximizes their respective strengths and contributes to health improvement. “Based on our strategic planning process, along with feedback from our practice centers, faculty and other schools of public health, we determined that a center is needed to coordinate and communicate existing practice functions and capabilities with one voice within and outside the school,” said Richard Sewell, Associate Dean for Community and Public Health Practice. “The Center will maintain, improve and develop strategic opportunities to assure our continued relevance in preparing public health professionals and working meaningfully with the public health practice community.”
This vision became a reality in September when the school hired Griselle Torres (DrPH ’14, MPH ’06) as the new Director of the Coordinating Center for Public Health Practice. Under Dr. Torres’ leadership, UIC SPH is positioned to be the primary source and venue for public health practice and academic innovation in Illinois. “The school has become a triple threat, known for its teaching, research and service,” says Dr. Torres. “The Center itself can serve as a coordinating hub between these three areas, especially honing in on implementation science.” UIC SPH already has research that informs teaching and practice, but Dr. Torres says there is a need for implementation science to inform research, teaching and practice itself. “It’s a quality improvement cycle necessary to ensure that these areas are driving one another.”
A significant part of the UIC SPH strategic plan focuses on content related to public health practice, specifically disseminating knowledge between the school and its internal and external partners. “This includes partnering with other colleges, health agencies, international and community-based organizations, and policy makers,” Dr. Torres explains. As one of seven health sciences colleges on campus that are part of the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, UIC SPH will be in a unique position to quickly begin to take advantage of opportunities for partnership.
The Center has three main goals. First is to become a leader in public health practice-based research and in dissemination and translation of UIC faculty research about health and health systems. To achieve this goal, UIC SPH will develop strategic partnerships with faculty, alumni, and health-related agencies, launching an active public health practice-based research network. Secondly, the Center will become a leader in public health workforce development by developing a statewide workforce development training plan aligned with the intergovernmental agreement the school has with the Illinois Department of Public Health. Lastly, the Center will be a leading provider and partner for innovative assessment, planning, and evaluation services conducted with public health organizations, expanding current services to include emerging approaches such as health impact assessment and public health department accreditation support.
“Achieving these goals will require an intentional effort in coordination, development, and strategic management of the UIC SPH practice and practice-based research functions,” explains Mr. Sewell. “And given our commitment to collaboration, I look forward to seeing this Center be a model for collaboration in the state of Illinois.”
To learn more about the Center, contact Griselle Torres at 312-413-7692 or firstname.lastname@example.org.