The Louisiana Board of Regents has approved the first epidemiology doctoral program in a public institution in Louisiana — at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans. The doctoral program will be granted through the School of Public Health starting with the fall 2010 semester.
Epidemiology encompasses the identification of factors affecting the health of populations of people, ways to prevent illnesses and the best treatments. LSUHSC's doctoral degree in epidemiology will build on the School of Public Health's existing master's degree in the discipline. The doctoral program is one of the requirements for the School of Public Health to be accredited; the school plans to add a doctoral program in Community Health Science later this year.
The Association of Schools of Public Health and the American Public Health Association predict a shortage in the national public health workforce as 100,000 — or 23 percent of present workers — reach retirement age by 2012. The groups say more than 250,000 workers need to be added by 2020 to have the same workforce-to-population ratio (220 to 100,000) that existed in 1980.