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College of Public Health

Recently, ETSU College of Public Health Master of Public Health students in a Health Communications course had the opportunity to participate in a remarkable collaborative effort, partnering with the Tennessee Department of Health and members of the public health workforce to maximize the use of funds received as a result of the Tobacco Settlement Program in spring 2014. .

Through class assignments, the students crafted their "theory of the problem," applying health behavior theories learned in the classroom to the public health issue of secondhand smoke exposure to young children in vehicles. Then, they completed a review of the literature to see what health issues have historically been addressed using billboards and mass media campaigns and how effective those campaigns have been. They came up with suggestions on the most effective messaging, the most strategic placement, and the most eye-catching visual images for prevention-focused billboards. In early April, they presented their findings at the East Tennessee Regional Health Office in Knoxville, Tennessee. They also facilitated small group discussions regarding intervention evaluation techniques and ideas. The students then compiled their notes, which were sent to Mr. Bruce Behringer, Deputy Commissioner for Continuous Improvement and Training for the Tennessee Department of Health.

According to course instructor, Dr. Katie Baker, "The students blew their audience away with their confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism. One county health department representative distributed her business card to the students, while another expressed interest in having a student join her team over the summer to kick off this campaign. Best of all, one of the students secured a job interview."

Graduate students who participated in this experience included Iqra Ahmad, Rachel Dean, and Brittany Kirkland from the Department of Community & Behavioral Health, Johnson Osazee from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Olivia Egen from the Department of Health Services Management & Policy.

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