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UA Receives $4M to Improve the U.S. Public Health System

The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health provides free training and continuing education to the public health workforce in four states and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands with a focus on the top public health issues of today: childhood obesity, the opioid epidemic, and mental health.

The Western Region Public Health Training Center (WRPHTC) at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, received a $4 million, four-year grant to continue providing training for the public health workforce in Region 9 of the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), covering Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and U.S. Associated Pacific Islands. 

The WRPHTC is one of 10 university-based regional public health training centers under the Public Health Learning Network (PHLN), a group of public health educators, experts, and thought leaders with a mission to advance public health practice and improve population health in the United States. 

Since 2015, more than 97,000 public health professionals have taken courses through the WRPHTC, which is responsible for 20 percent of all trainings within the national network.

“We provide trainings that cover the top public health issues of today: childhood obesity, opioid epidemic, and mental health,” said Douglas Taren, PhD, associate dean of academic programs and director of the Western Region Public Health Training Center at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health.

As public health departments across the U.S. feel the strain of budget cuts, the WRPHTC fills the need for cost effective continuing education and training programs for the public health workforce. 

Abigail Stoica, associate director of the WRPHTC says the services they provide help health departments in Region 9 with accreditation and improving efficiency.

Topics of the webinars and self-paced trainings include: Using mobile health apps to enhance nutrition intervention, prevention of diabetes and obesity in school-aged children, medical complications of eating disorders, developing mediation skills for dispute resolution, programs for people dealing with homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness, mental health screening tools, postpartum weight retention and its connection to obesity and diabetes, and more.

Many of the training courses are approved for Continuing Education Credits (CNE) for Registered Nurses, Continuing Professional Education Units (CPEU) for Registered Dietitians, and Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES) through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. at no cost to users.

We will continue to assess the training needs of the public health workforce and create engaging, skill-based trainings to strengthen capacity to address the health disparities in Region 9,” said Stoica. “We have an amazing opportunity through expanded partnerships to create and share resources that better enable public health professionals to improve health in the communities we serve.”

Regional partners include the Hawaii Public Health Institute; Children’s Healthy Living Program at the University of Hawaii; Hawaii State Rural Health Association; School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno; Health Officers Association of California; California Area Health Education Center at the University of California San Francisco; Pacific Island Health Officers Association; University of Arizona Southwest Telehealth Resource Center; Arizona Council of Health Service Providers; Eastern, Southeast and Northern Arizona Area Health Education Centers; and the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

The staff of the WRPHTC at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health include: Paul Akmanijan, James Cunningham, Eric Healy, Erica Freese, Myra Muramoto, Kathy Spicer, Dulce Rodriquez, Allison Root, and Douglas Taren.

To review the schedule for upcoming live webcasts and self-paced trainings, please visit the website at:

The University of Arizona