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St. Louis Academic Health Department: The St. Louis Way

The St. Louis Academic Health Department is a coalition between the Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, the St. Louis City Health Department and the St. Louis County Health Department.

The Academic Health Department is a partnership that promotes the health of all St. Louisans through the lens of equity and social justice.

The effort is led by:

Academic Health Department Activities

 The Academic Health Department has four main functional areas: teaching, research, workforce development and policy. Within each area, committees and work groups made up of faculty and staff work toward meeting set goals.

Teaching

Practice-Based Adjunct Faculty and Guest Lecturers
  • Health department staff members serve as adjunct faculty member at SLU's College for Public Health and Social Justice.
  • Health department staff members serve as regular guest lecturers for SLU's Master of Public Health and undergraduate public health programs.
  • Faculty members from the College for Public Health and Social Justice provide workshops/training to the staff at the city and county health departments.
  •  The AHD monitors the number of service, internship and volunteer opportunities that result from student exposure to health department staff.
Student Internships
  •  Identified staff at the city and county health departments serve as internship preceptors.
  • Students experience a streamlined process for internships at the city and county health departments.

Examples:

  • Mapping and analyzing cancer disparities in St. Louis county.
  • Analysis of STI and TB data within the City of St. Louis.

Research

Shared Research and Policy Agenda

This shared research agenda is tightly aligned with the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) of the city and county health departments. 

See the Agenda

Research Projects

Research projects are developed based on a shared research and policy agenda, informed by the Community Health Improvement Plan. The projects will be collaborative efforts between SLU and the city and county health departments.

Research Ambassadors Program
  • Utilizing a junior colleague model, the research ambassadors program is comprised of a group of public health students interested in working with public health practitioners on short-term research and evaluation projects.

Example: Writing a literature review for domestic violence.

Student Outbreak Response Team (SORT)
  • SORT is a student-run organization within SLU’s  College for Public Health and Social Justice that trains a cadre of students to assist in outbreak response within the St. Louis area.
  • SORT provides educational and professional development opportunities for students interested in emergency preparedness and infectious disease response.
  • SORT is currently deployed to both the city and county health departments on an ad hoc basis.

Example: Disease surveillance with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

Pop-Up Research Squads (PURS)
  • PURS are short-term collaborations between SLU faculty researchers and staff of the health departments.
  • PURS are designed to provide each organization with additional resources to conduct public health research in St. Louis.
  • Faculty, students and health department staff request a squad to help with a research issue.

Examples: 

  • Maternal Mental Health: Discussing access to mental health care for mothers in St. Louis, specifically looking at access amongst minority groups.
  • Measuring Equity: Discussing how to measure equity in a population in the St. Louis area.

Workforce Development

Training Plan
  • The training plan is based on previous needs assessments and national data and that addresses Community Health Improvement Plan priorities.
  • The plan guides the creation of new and identification of existing training opportunities for health department staff members.
Continuing Education Programs
  • The city and county health departments provide training sessions for students and faculty related to real-world public health practice.
  • SLU's College for Public Health and Social Justice provides continuing education programs based on the workforce development plan for staff at the city and county health departments.

Examples: 

  • A quality improvement expert held a workshop on quality improvement in a public health department.
  • At the beginning of the fall semester,  new M.P.H. cohort visit the city and county health departments to learn about the work a local public health department engages in and potential careers in public health. 

Policy Plan

  • Outline policy activities as part of the shared research and policy agenda.
  • Conduct policy activities that revolve around the shared research agenda.
  • Policy initiatives are centered on social justice and equity as a means to improving the health of the community.