Public Health Minor Given Final Approval

Glennis Nagel

Beginning next fall, UNK will offer the first classes for a public health minor, according to Dr. Debra Mowry, biology, who headed up development of the new offering.

UNK will also become the first University of Nebraska campus to offer the minor.

“A public health minor will add depth to a student’s major study field,” she said. The interdisciplinary minor will be comprised of 24 credit hours from among a variety of courses in business, natural sciences, exercise sciences, education, language, social work and others.

“There are nine hours of required classes and 15 hours of electives,” Dr.Mowry said. “A variety of students can take this minor. They don’t do just biology. They need to understand business, wellness and cultural issues, for example.”

Among the required courses are Introduction to Public Health and Epidemiology. Elective courses are clustered in the natural sciences, business and management, nutrition and wellness, and psychology, language and other classes. “The elective courses selected should be based on the need to provide a broader education for each student ” she said.

“Students interested in this minor must consult with a public health minor adviser to identify specific courses required to focus on specific public health interests,” she said. “Our goal is to give students a broad experience. In the future, we would like to offer a capstone course as well as a global health course.” The minor is housed with the Health Sciences Programs, X8260.

Dr.Mowry began work on the minor in August. Faculty who helped develop the minor, and who serve as public health advisers in addition to Dr. Mowry, include: Peggy Abels, Health Sciences Programs; Dr. Greg Brown, Health, Physical Education & Recreation; Dr. Kate Heelan, Health, Physical Education & Recreation; and Andrea McClintic, Health Sciences Programs.

“The public health field is different than medical care,” she explained. “Public health professionals work with groups of people rather than individuals.” Dr.Mowry, who is a medical doctor in addition to having an undergraduate degree in science education, practiced medicine in New Mexico and Nebraska before joining the biology department.

“Public health is a diverse field,” she said. Some of the careers possible for those with public health backgrounds include hospital department leaders, educators, health care workers, scientists, attorneys, nursing home administrators, industrial designers and engineers.

“There is a growing number of jobs in the field,” she said, adding that she has seen a range in salaries from $20,000 – $140,000 offered for public health practitioners.