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Office of Public Health Practice

The Office of Public Health Practice at Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice provides support for community collaboration, internships, alumni development, practice-based research and training.

Office of Public Health photo showing a discussion

Public health practice is defined as: “The strategic, organized, and interdisciplinary application of knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to perform essential public health services and other activities to improve the population's health." Source: Demonstrating Excellence in Academic Public Health Practice. Association of Schools of Public Health (June 1999)

SLU's Office of Public Health Practice was established in 2018 to connect public health faculty and students with community partners to help improve academic public health practice, teaching and practice-based research.

Attendees look at posters two rows of posters while having discussions at a conference.

Attendees discussing public health at the annual North St. Louis Symposium Poster Sessions event.

SLU Office of Public Health Practice Activities

Community Engagement
  • Facilitate, promote and link public health faculty, staff and students to local, regional and national community partners for teaching, research and service opportunities.
  • Create models of community-student collaboration that allows continual support of community organization.
  • Cultivate relationships with community partners.
  • Identify new opportunities for M.P.H. internships, undergraduate service-learning opportunities, and student volunteer experiences. 
  • Promote community service activities among faculty and students. 
  • Track community service activities among faculty and students. 
  • Manage the internal public health advisory board that provides advice on the implementation and evaluation of the OPHP. Members include B.S.P.H. students, M.P.H. students, and public health staff and faculty.
    • The purpose of the internal advisory group of the Office of Public Health Practice is to gather student and faculty perspectives on various aspects of public health practice, including opportunities to build and enhance students' skills, opportunities, and resources that will ultimately make them stronger public health professionals.
  • Manage the external public health advisory board.
    • Purpose: The CPHSJ Office of Public Health Practice External Advisory Board primarily supports the public health programs (BSPH and MPH) by advising the CPHSJ leadership about up to date competencies and skills required to adequately function in the field of public health, providing opportunities for jobs and internships, and advising about and participating in student recruitment.
    • Composed of public health employers and preceptors; MPH alumni with 2-3 years of field experience; BSPH alumni who have graduated in the last two years; current SLU MPH students; SLU CPHSJ faculty
Public Health Alumni Engagement
  • Create and manage a system for alumni relations for the M.P.H.
  • Regularly survey alumni to determine their current work, beliefs about their preparation, and use of competencies in current job.
  • Assure the incorporation of advisory board and alumni survey results to enhance the curriculum. 
  • Assure that alumni survey results are shared with the advisory board so they can provide input for improvement/modification.
  • Encourage alumni participation in recruitment and teaching.
Workforce Development
  • Provide regular continuing education events for faculty, students and the community. 
  • Collaborate with the Student Association of Public Health (SAPH) to sponsor and co-sponsor events.
  • Collaborate with community members to provide sessions.
  • Increase opportunities for providing innovative approaches to training for the public health workforce.
  • Work closely with faculty and centers that provide public health workforce training to enhance the presence of training in the CPHSJ.
  • Create summer institutes related to practice, e.g., community collaboration.


  • Panel Discussion: Post-COVID Global Health with Dr. Nicholas Comninellis, INMED (Spring 2021)
  • Panel Discussion: Of Rubber, Roads, and Realities: Practice Based Projects in Public Health, St. Louis County & City with Spring Schmidt, St. Louis County Department of Public Health; and Craig Schmid, City of St. Louis Department of Public Health (Spring 2021)
  • Panel Discussion: Evidence-Informed Public Health Practice and Policy  with Dr. Ross Brownson, Washington University in St. Louis (Spring 2021)
  • Panel Discussion: Where Public Health and Transportation Collide with Morgan Drexler and Glendedora Dolce, ASPPH/NHTSA Public Health Fellows (Spring 2021)
  • “Medical Cannabis: Navigating Complex Conversations” with Stacie Zellin, M.P.H., CHES, Community Education Coordinator, PreventEd (Fall 2020)
  • Panel Discussion: “Culturally Appropriate Approaches for Working With and In the Community: Modifications During a Pandemic” with Franda Thomas (City of St. Louis Department of Health), Rose Anderson-Rice (Generate Health), and Ciearra Walker (Integrated Health Network) (Fall 2020) 
  • APHA Panel: Event-Dying Too Soon: A Look at Women's Health (Fall 2018)
  • Graduate Public Health Networking Night (Spring 2019)
  • Symposium: Making a Difference in North St. Louis (Spring 2019)
  • Panel Discussion: Working with and in the Community: Culturally Appropriate Approaches (Fall 2019)
  • APHA Keynote: Public Health and Social Justice Issues for the 2020 Elections (Fall 2019)
  • "Band-Aids, Bullets, Policy and Popcorn" by Dr. Laurie Punch (Fall 2019)
Practice-Based Teaching

Practice-based teaching is an applied, interdisciplinary approach to public health education designed to enhance student competence through practice experiences, broadly speaking. “Through practice-based teaching, student learning is meaningful, relevant, and benefits the host agencies and organizations. “Source: Demonstrating Excellence in Practice Based Teaching for Public Health. Association of Schools of Public Health (Fall, 2004) 

Office of Public Health Practice Activities

  • Promote practice-based teaching.
  • In collaboration with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, track practice-based teaching.
  • Create opportunities for and mentor graduate students and faculty members in practice-based teaching.
Practice-Based Research

"Practice-based research the systematic inquiry into the systems, methods, policies, and programmatic applications of public health practice. This definition includes science-based inquiry that occurs in practice settings such as field epidemiology, systematic reflection on the practice experience, and laboratory analysis—to the extent that such inquiry produces generalizable knowledge to improve the outcomes of practice or to inform policy making.” Source: Demonstrating Excellence in Practice Based Research for Public Health. Association of Schools of Public Health (Fall, 2006)

Office of Public Health Practice Activities

  • Promote practice-based research.
  • In collaboration with the associate dean for research, track practice-based research. 
  • Create opportunities for and mentor students and faculty members in practice-based research.
Public Health Practice Activities in the College

Contact the SLU Office of Public Health Practice

The Office of Public Health Practice was developed with input from the faculty, staff and students. For more information, contact Director of Public Health Practice Spring Schmidt.