OHSU

Chairman's Message

Welcome to the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine!

Every day in the newspaper and on television reporters provide news coverage about a variety of public health challenges—from infectious diseases to chronic conditions that threaten our nation’s health.  These headlines highlight the important roles that public health practitioners and researchers play in keeping our nation healthy.  Although public health efforts have been underway for thousands of years in different parts of the globe, it appears as if many people in the country had been unaware of the public health army that works behind the scenes to keep us all healthy.  However, with recent infectious disease epidemics—including e.coli  0157 h7, anthrax, SARS, hantavirus, and influenza h1n1 —the lay public has become more educated about the public health system that operates at all levels in our society, from local to national and international programs.  Of course, public health has substantial challenges outside of the infectious disease arena and the media also are interested in the obesity epidemic, growing incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, mental health and substance abuse, and injury morbidity and mortality.  These topics represent just a few areas in the chronic disease realm that threaten our health.  Countless examples of public health threats could fill this page, and they change periodically as new conditions arise.

Historically, many health improvements affecting the health of Oregonians and other Americans have come about as a direct result of successfully implemented public health measures.  From a more global perspective, the ten major achievements in public health over the past century have included:  vaccination, motor vehicle safety, safer workplaces, control of infectious diseases, decline in cardiovascular diseases, safer and healthier foods, healthier mothers and babies, family planning, fluoridation of drinking water, and recognition of tobacco as a health hazard.  Those areas the members of our department are making continued public health contributions include substance abuse treatment, cancer prevention and control, food safety, healthy aging, obesity and tooth decay prevention, child safety and injury prevention, prevention of noise induced hearing loss, and prevention of vision loss among diabetics.  Much of our work has a health disparities focus, as we conduct projects in diverse communities in Oregon and beyond. 

In our department, we train students to function as members of the public health workforce, and provide them real tools to help address the many challenges in public health.  We also train students to function as academic and public health researchers.  We offer an MPH degree that will prepare you with basic public health values to which our program ascribes:  identification of the basic conditions necessary for optimal public health, protection of public health, and promotion of good health practices in the community.  Almost all of our MPH graduates have found jobs in the field of public health or a related field after graduation.  Some of our graduates work in industry and in governmental health agencies, and many of them have had a strong voice in health decisions that affect our community. We also offer residency training in Preventive Medicine, and have an outstanding record of our graduates passing the Board exam and finding excellent jobs in this field.  

Public health careers offer rewarding experiences and these days vast opportunities exist for well-trained public health graduates.   Training in public health will prepare you with knowledge, skills, and practical experience in epidemiology, environmental health, health promotion, health policy, and administration.  We have a large number of topnotch biostatisticians who will help you master data management and analysis —critical skills for any public health practitioner or academic researcher.  You will have an excellent skill set that will help you find a terrific position in your area of interest after graduation from our training programs. We hope that our website provides you with more details of our training programs, our research, and our interests—and conveys to you our enthusiasm and energy for taking on a variety of public health challenges in Oregon and beyond.  We are excited to be involved in the changing field of public health and are proud to be agents of change that help to keep the public healthy. 

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Thomas M. Becker, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair