Jones & Bartlett Learning Public Health Blog

    Community Colleges & Public Health: What is Public Health and How to be Part of It?

    Posted by Susanne Walker on Jan 24, 2019 3:38:19 PM

    By Richard Riegelman MD, MPH, PhD, Professor and Founding Dean, The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, author of Public Health 101, Third Edition and Population Health: A Primer

    Community colleges are the next frontier for public health education, as these schools now educate almost half of all undergraduates. In addition, they are now “majority minority” reflecting the large number of first-generation college students from under-represented minorities. Community colleges graduate the majority of nurses and a large majority of allied health professionals.


    Despite the potentially fertile ground for public health in community colleges, until recently little public health education existed in community colleges. That is now changing. As part of the Framing the Future effort celebrating the 100th anniversary of public health education, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) along with the League for Innovation in the Community College developed the Community Colleges and Public Health report.

    The report envisions public health as a foundation for health professions education and foresees a continuum of public health education from community colleges through doctoral education. It also recommends a series of three “health foundation” courses offered by community colleges: Personal Health and Wellness, Overview of Public Health, and Health Communications.

    Jones and Bartlett Learning in collaboration with the American Public Health Association Press has now published three Health Foundation textbooks which together fulfill these recommendations. These are Personal Health: A Population Perspective, Public Health 101, and Health Communication. Just published in October, Personal Health: A Population Perspective is ideal for courses in Health and Wellness, whether they are taught at 2-year or 4-year colleges. It provides a new approach to helping students understand the determinants of health based on social determinants as well as individual decisions. Global health, systems thinking, health advocacy, and health justice are key concepts in the text, which add to the personal health approaches included in most personal health textbooks.

    During National Public Health Week 2019 from April 1-7, the League for Innovation in the Community College will be supporting community college student groups to develop programs around the theme What is Public Health and How to be Part of It. These programs aim to introduce community college students to the key contributions and career potential of public health. Approximately 30 community college student groups will put on programs during The National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2019 and an increased number of programs are expected to be supported for NPHW 2020.

    The NPHW 2019 community college student programs will take place in community colleges in all regions of the United States. Activities range from a public health scavenger hunt and the production of public service announcements to social media campaigns and more. A full list of programs and their activities along with information on the 2020 small grant awards will appear on the League’s website in the coming months.

    Additionally, during NPHW 2019, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) will present a webinar designed to provide community college faculty with information on the wide variety of career paths and educational opportunities for their students as well as opportunities to develop public health education in community colleges. More information will be available in March at and

    Community college students are a key part of public health’s effort to develop a diverse workforce that can improve the health of our communities. Jones and Bartlett Learning aims to support these efforts as they take-off during National Public Health Week 2019 and 2020.

    About the Author

    Richard Riegelman, MD, MPH, PhD- Professor of Epidemiology-Biostatistics, Medicine, and Health Policy, and Founding Dean, The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington, Washington D.C.

    Dr. Riegelman has over 70 publications including 6 books for students and practitioners of medicine and public health. He is currently editor of the Jones and Bartlett book series Essential Public Health. The series provides books and ancillary materials for the full spectrum of curricula for undergraduate public health as well as the core and cross-cutting competencies covered by the Certification in Public Health examination of the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He has taken a lead role in developing the Educated Citizen and Public Health initiative which has brought together arts and sciences and public health education associations to implement the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommendation that “…all undergraduates should have access to education in public health.”. Dr. Riegelman also led the development of George Washington’s undergraduate major and minor and currently teaches “Public Health 101” and “Epidemiology 101” to undergraduates.

    Topics: NPHW, Richard Riegelman, undergraduate public health, National Public Health Week (NPHW), public health education, Health foundations