UA Works to Build Healthy Communities as Part of Land-Grant Mission

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The UA is involved in numerous efforts to provide nutrition education to communities throughout the state.

The University of Arizona, with its land-grant mission, is dedicated to serving the community in a variety of ways. One of those ways is by promoting good health and nutrition throughout the state and beyond through health education, outreach and research.

From community classes that teach low-income families to make healthy meals to academic programs that pair UA medical students with physicians in rural areas, the University's health and wellness programs are diverse and varied, but they all share a common goal: to build a healthier Arizona.

Health sciences colleges engage in vital research, education

Among the integral players in that endeavor is the Arizona Health Sciences Center, which includes the UA College of Medicine – with campuses in both Tucson and Phoenix – as well as the colleges of nursing, pharmacy and public health.

Not only are the health sciences colleges working to educate tomorrow's health-care professionals while engaging in cutting-edge research with a local and global impact, they also are doing important hands-on work in Arizona communities, often with vulnerable or underrepresented populations.

The UA's Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, for example, maintains several programs and centers dedicated to community health issues, including, among others, the Center for Rural Health, which focuses on health issues in rural communities; the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion, which promotes health literacy and healthy living through community education and research; and the Arizona Smoker's Help Line, or AshLine, a telephone-based coaching program designed to help people across Arizona and the nation to stop smoking.

"The idea of a land-grant institution is really strengthening communities in our state," said Jill Guernsey de Zapien, associate dean for community programs for the College of Public Health. "I think the College of Public Health has a very special mission because while public health is certainly concerned with the health and well-being of the entire community, we have a very special emphasis on vulnerable and undeserved populations throughout or state, which makes us a central piece of the mission of a land-grant institution."

About 97 percent of students from the College of Public Health participate in internships focused on health disparities, said Iman Hakim, the college's dean. Graduate students also have the option of getting out of the classroom and working in the communities through immersive week-long service learning courses, funded by the Arizona Area Health Education Centers Program, a non-profit organization that promotes community and educational partnerships to increase quality health-care access, especially for rural and urban underserved communities. Service learning courses allow students to work hand-on with a variety of populations, such as refugees, homeless individuals, residents of U.S.-Mexico border communities or American Indians living on Navajo reservations in Northern Arizona.

Read more from this August 29 UANews article at the link below to learn how the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences translates health research into tools for communities.

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