DVC Renames Public Health Department, Revamping a Program Where Demand Is Growing

Image+courtesy+of+Pete+Fecteau+via+Wikimedia+Commons.+CC0+1.0.+

Image courtesy of Pete Fecteau via Wikimedia Commons. CC0 1.0.

JT Espiritu, Staff

DVC’s Health Science Department has announced that it will officially change its name to the Public Health Department starting in the 2022 fall semester.

According to department chair Dr. Kristen Colchico, the change will help better distinguish the public health discipline from the health science and kinesiology programs at the school.

“Health science is currently geared more towards exercise science, kinesiology and allied health,” she said, “while public health focuses more on prevention of illness, injury and disease through community organization and health promotion programming.”

“It is more reflective of what we teach,” Colchico told The Inquirer in a recent interview. “It does not align with health sciences as well anymore.”

As part of the program’s change, new public health courses will be added in Fall 2023 to give students more options and a deeper understanding in the field, she added. General courses will still be offered, such as stress management and personal health.

As several California State Universities (CSUs) move to create distinguished public health departments, Colchico believes the change at DVC can help make the transfer process easier on students – since both DVC and the CSUs could have public health departments that are more commonly aligned.

“If we have similar names, similar programs and similar courses, then it would be easier to transfer for students,” said Colchico.

Administrators said they also intend to run the DVC health program differently, offering new courses focusing on pillars of public health, such as investigating disease outbreaks and monitoring global health.

Starting next semester, the revamped department plans to provide an opportunity for students to cover topics especially relevant for young adults, including drugs, alcohol and sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.

Students will also be able to become mentors, using their skills as they promote workshops on campus at DVC, in the community, at nearby high schools or interning at the Contra Costa Health Department. Gaining public health experience and working hands-on in the field will help students transfer to four-year schools and thrive in the public health field, said Colchico.

Meanwhile, program administrators are seeking to place a great emphasis on equity. With the COVID-19 pandemic particularly hurting communities with limited resources, Colchico noted that the DVC Public Health Department aims to help those communities in need of support – whether that comes in the form of providing laptops or school lunches.

“That’s what public health does,” she said. “We intervene in the schools and we provide those resources for communities that don’t have them.”