Alumni Spotlight: Bettina M. Beech, DrPH, MPH
Beech, Chief Population Health Officer at UH system, on building a healthier future for students
UTHealth Houston School of Public Health alum Bettina M. Beech, DrPH, MPH, demonstrates the school's continued dedication to promoting higher education with real-world application and impact. Beech completed her doctorate at UTHealth Houston with a concentration in community health, applying her academic experience to her current leadership role in higher education. Beech has committed her career to promoting better health, addressing the structural and environmental factors impacting community health.
Beech is a clinical professor of population health in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health Sciences at the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine and Chief Population Health Officer at the University of Houston (UH). Her role entails working across all 16 schools within the university to develop interdisciplinary education programs, build multi-sector partnerships, and conduct high-impact research in areas that align with the UH strategic plan.
Within her various positions at UH, Beech provides health-related tools and resources for over 40,000 students. Her academic and research training at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health helped Beech develop foundational skillsets that transitioned well into her current roles.
"The training I received in these areas, along with doctoral-level methodology courses in epidemiology, demography, biostatistics, and health economics, provided me with a strong intellectual foundation and the necessary skills to design and conduct rigorous research studies; the ability to implement interventions in diverse community settings," Beech explained.
As the relationship between public health and mental health evolves at their intersection, health professionals continue to advocate for healthier futures for all with a keen interest in students. Beech recognized “the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid epidemic, mass shootings, and bullying [as factors that] brought this issue to the front and center of public discourse." Her role as Chief Population Health Officer at UH provides her with a direct understanding of these issues plaguing students in Texas.
Beech utilizes her academic and professional background in community health, each of which has created a solid foundation to identify and implement tools and strategies to address the issues plaguing our field. Having a firm understanding of such issues, Beech suggests that one necessary step is to promote the partnership between "health scientists and practitioners to engage with the general public. [This will] expand awareness and understanding about the continuum of mental health," said Beech.
A lasting reminder to all future graduates, "Public health is a noble profession that serves a critical societal function. I encourage students to thoroughly immerse themselves in the myriad of educational, research, and practice opportunities at the school to provide a solid foundation for careers in public health," said Beech.
As an alum, Beech tackles social inequities and encourages the next wave of professionals to adapt to the evolving field of public health. As new issues emerge, students, researchers, and public health workers should remain diligent in identifying new health issues and creating new methods to solve them. Beech tirelessly works to promote students' mental health and implement new strategies to aid their experiences in academia and life.
Beech's extensive list of accolades includes the Harrison Tinsely mentoring award, selection into the Executive Leadership for Academic Medicine fellows' program, the American Council for Education fellows' program, member of the Humana Foundation Board of Directors, officer on the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching, Diversity in Education award, and the Resilient Spirit award from the Group on Women in Science.
The UTHealth Houston alum community comprised of leading public health professionals, continue to advocate and uplift the populations they serve. Our graduate's impact spans beyond the reach of Texas, and their work and research solidify the school's legacy in promoting public health.