Welcome to the fall of 2020. I never would have imagined when I rung in the New Year that 2020 would be a year to remember for the reasons related to a global pandemic and society’s discontent with the status quo. These are certainly unprecedented times, riddled with challenges and uncertainty. Like many of you, the coronavirus has upended routines, impacted students, and challenged me to the brink.
As we have all needed to quickly transition to online, virtual and remote instruction, I have asked my students where they have seen silver linings in all of this upheaval? Many have shared they have appreciated the opportunity to slow down a bit, spend more time with family, and focus on things that matter most. Student have also shared what I too have noticed and that is the heightened awareness of the public health issues they have come to understand through their academic preparation. The need for public health professionals and practitioners is ever present, and very noticeable with the most recent need for COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers, stretching the already thin health departments to the brink. There has been renewed interest in public health training and academic preparation. The increasing interest in accredited public health programs is an area the Association of Accredited Public Health Programs (AAPHP) is mobilized to support.
Each year, we select students from our member programs to receive the Public Health Practice Award. Our AAPHP Public Health Practice Award is an opportunity to award undergraduate and graduate students for their innovative approaches to public health projects and research. In January of this year, AAPHP awarded one undergraduate and one graduate student, each receiving $500 and $1,000, respectively. Applications for the 2021 awards are being accepted through November 30, 2020.
Although the APHA Annual meeting will be held virtually, AAPHP still plans to engage our board, member programs, and stakeholders by way of our Executive Board, Annual Technical Assistance, and Member Meetings. Details regarding these important meetings will be shared with member programs in the coming weeks.
We know that there are many organizations that you can be a member of, with the budgetary impacts of the current pandemic possibly limiting your choices. For a decade AAPHP has represented its member programs and helping them to achieve accreditation with the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Members of the AAPHP board continue to serve in a number of academic and practice-based organizations including serving on the CEPH Board. We are now preparing to elect the next team of AAPHP leaders for the 2021 year and are actively seeking nominations for President, President Elect, faculty board member, and student board member. We can do little to grow our organization and support our member programs without devoted members serving on the AAPHP Executive Board. Please consider submitting a nomination for the upcoming election. We cannot do this important work without you! We are excited and encouraged by the future opportunities for AAPHP and its member programs. I wish you a wonderful academic year and look forward to “seeing” you all- albeit virtually- at the upcoming APHA annual meeting in October.
Marshare Penny, DrPH
President, Association of Accredited Public Health Programs
Dr. Marshare Penny