New Academic Health Partnerships promise greater opportunities for students and public health workers statewide

The partnerships are the first of their kind in the state and are the evolution of long-standing collaborations

The UTHealth Houston School of Public Health is excited to announce the establishment of two innovative academic health partnerships with health agencies in Texas. The formalized agreements promise enriched educational opportunities for students, a pipeline to employment for graduates, increased professional development for public health workers statewide, and the streamlining of public health research and delivery for citizens across Texas. The partnerships are the first of their kind in the state and are the evolution of long-standing collaborations with the partnering agencies.

Academic Health Partnerships are often described as the public health equivalent of "teaching hospitals" and reduce the separation between the education of public health professionals and the practice of public health. They offer benefits for the academic institution, health agencies, and the public. A list of over 100 partnerships across the United States is maintained online by the non-profit Public Health Foundation. 

The agreements established with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) formalize and expand upon existing collaborations between the school and the institutions that date to the very origins of the entities. UTHealth Houston has participated in initiatives with the partner agencies, including disease prevention and vaccination efforts, health promotion campaigns, environmental and workplace safety initiatives, and research. The partnerships expand the previous collaborations with innovative elements that increase access to expertise, sharing of technology and research, and efficiency across the board, streamlining the educational and occupation opportunities for each partner and their communities.

UTHealth Houston students have always had access to practicums with both agencies, but the new agreements establish a direct pipeline from those practicums to employment, directly connecting students and graduates to job opportunities while guaranteeing a steady supply of skilled, experienced workers for the agencies. Agency employees will teach classes at the school, bringing expertise and up-to-date practical experience to students in the classroom. The partner agencies will benefit from closer contact and coordination with school faculty on shared research and increased access to funding. Other areas of intersection include communications and messaging, data analysis and interventions, and advising on policy and management. The partnerships have agreements on sharing resources and information, including data, software, or logistics, extending the capabilities of the organizations and increasing their efficiency.

The statewide reach of DSHS includes both the large urban centers and the many rural communities without their own public health agencies. Dallas County Health and Human Services serves a population of over 2.6 million in the second-largest county in the state. The Academic Health Partnerships engage with the School of Public Health and its resources across the state, capitalizing on a network established since its founding in 1967.

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