Oregon Public Health Corps

University of Oregon — Goal 2 Initiative Oregon Public Health Corps

As the country moves into what is expected to be the late stages of the Covid crisis throughout 2021 and into early 2022, the University of Oregon will use already secured funding from OHA to transition the Corona Corps into the Oregon Public Health Corps. This more permanent public health workforce development program will support Oregon’s response to a range of future public health challenges, both anticipated and unanticipated.

Oregon Public Health Corps will contribute to the health and well-being of Oregonians in four ways:

  1. Education and Training: Building on the Corona Corps model, the University of Oregon will work closely with administrators and faculty at partner higher education institutions, particularly community colleges, to recruit a diverse group of motivated students that will lay a solid foundation for workforce preparation for service.
  2. Strengthening Oregon’s Public Health Infrastructure Through Deployment: As Oregon Health Authority notes, public health services in Southwest Oregon and across the state need investment and modernization. The Oregon Public Health Corps will enable OHA to call on a rapidly deployable and cost-effective resource in the defense against anticipated and unanticipated public health threats.
  3. Reduce Health Disparities and Provide Equitable Access to Statewide Services: The coronavirus pandemic has exposed considerable disparities across Southwest Oregon communities in terms of access to public health information, the public’s willingness or ability to engage with public health recommendations, as well as inequities in how social factors determine health. By serving as a low-cost, easily deployed workforce, the Oregon Public Health Corps will help reduce public health disparities in Southwest Oregon and reach into underserved, tribal, rural and public health resistant populations.
  4. Next Generation Public Health Workforce: The Oregon Public Health Corps will train students who, as graduates, will replenish and extend Oregon’s professional public health workforce.

Initiative Differentiators

The Corona Corps has already proven that it is a unique model highly effective in the containment of a serious public health threat. The university draws on the rich UO liberal arts tradition and strong pre-health professions academic programs across many fields (from global health to prevention science, family and human services to human physiology, biomedical anthropology to psychology, and more) to deploy a public health workforce with multilingual, cross-cultural, marketing, communications and human services skillsets. 

Key Interventions and Milestones

The Oregon Public Health Corps is designed to address critical “holes” in our healthcare system that were made glaringly evident by the ongoing pandemic and combines university expertise in a vast and interdisciplinary approach across the UO.

Expected Impact

The program aims to meet several challenges: Too few trained and prepared staff to engage in disease containment; too little funding; too little focus on social detriments of health, cultures, and community outreach. By addressing these challenges, the program will help to develop the next generation of Oregon's public health workers.