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CDC’s Public Health Associate Program: A Win for Young People, A Win for America’s Health Security

Categories: Emergency Preparedness & Response, Public Health Partners, State & Local Success, U.S. Disease Outbreaks

Laura Cianciolo and Cleopatra Adedeji  of CDC's Public Health Associate Program

Left to Right: Laura Cianciolo and Cleopatra Adedeji  of CDC’s Public Health Associate Program

A tuberculosis (TB) case manager. A quarantine public health officer. A district liaison for a state’s Strategic National Stockpile. Not typical job opportunities for recent college graduates, but three of many frontline public health work experiences young people have had across the country thanks to CDC’s Public Health Associate Program. With National Public Health Week 2013 upon us (April 1-7), CDC is working with its partners in state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments to highlight the need for and value of developing America’s modern public health workforce to continue to save lives and protect people.

“By investing in the next generation of public health professionals, we’re not only helping young people enter the workforce, but we’re also strengthening our capacity to protect people from health and safety threats,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, about the agency’s training program. “It’s a win for young people and it’s a win for America’s health security.”

About the Program

Launched in 2007, CDC’s Public Health Associate Program establishes a pipeline of entry-level, frontline public health professionals who are uniquely qualified to meet the public health workforce needs at the federal, state, and local levels. The program is a highly competitive, paid two-year training intended to attract recent college graduates into public health. This year’s application period for associates just ended, with more than 4,400 applicants competing for 133 field work opportunities with state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments. So far, the program has trained 251 young people, 90 percent of whom remain in public health or a health-related field. 

“In the field, you’re working 24/7, but you’re seeing a difference and saving lives,” said Kristin M. Brusuelas, MPH, director of CDC’s Field Service Office, which oversees the Public Health Associate Program. “My 12 years of field work experience has been the most rewarding part my public health career, and now I get to create those memorable work and life experiences for the next generation of public health professionals.”

The Next Generation

Laura Cianciolo and Cleopatra Adedeji are two of five associates assigned to public health departments in Georgia through the Public Health Associate Program. While their day-to-day responsibilities vary widely, they were both drawn to the program as a way to get hands-on experience in public health and a foot in the door at CDC.

“Working for CDC was my long-term goal, not something I thought was possible right out of college – that is, until I learned about the Public Health Associate Program,” said Laura, who is in her first year of the program and working with the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Boards of Health in Lawrenceville, Georgia, as a TB case manager. To help stop the spread of TB within her communities, she ensures her patients follow isolation and treatment instructions and makes herself available to them around-the-clock. Laura recently spoke with soon-to-be-graduates at her alma mater about the Public Health Associate Program to motivate the students and show them there are opportunities for young people to work in public health and for CDC.

While Laura works directly with the public, Cleopatra’s assignment with the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Strategic National Stockpile in Atlanta has her working with the state’s public health district offices, ensuring they are prepared for emergencies. “As a public health associate, I’m CDC’s helping hand working with partners and communities,” said Cleopatra, who is in her second year with the program. “Making a difference and leaving a lasting impression are valuable ways to showcase the need for public health training programs, and I’m excited to be part of such a legacy.”

For more information on CDC’s Public Health Associate Program, visit the webpage.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. June 17, 2013 at 8:12 pm ET  -   Alishia Jackson

    I stumbled upon this page and immediately decided to read the story above. I myself had just been accepted into a nursing program here in Las Vegas, Nevada and am particularly interested in what opportunities are available in the health field. Most people think of a Licensed Practical Nurse or an Registered Nurse as just back office duties, strictly working in hospitals or doctors offices with sickly patients. I am learning through these helpful publications that there is more for me in my field than just that. I want to help as much as I can and make a significant impact in others life as well as my own. I will be checking into this program more closely and thank you for keeping us informed.

    Thank You,
    Alishia Jackson

    Link to this comment

    • June 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm ET  -   Blog Admin

      Glad you found our information on the CDC Public Health Associate Program helpful, Alishia. Best of luck to you.

      Link to this comment

  2. June 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm ET  -   Teirdre Owens

    I am very interested in the Public Health Associate Program, but there are no Host Sites in the state of Alabama. I applied for the 2013 PHAP program and also encouraged a local health department to apply as a Host Site. Are there any suggestions for citizens of states with no current Host Sites?

    Link to this comment

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