Public Health Education Division: Educating to Protect

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 711th Human Performance Wing, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Public Health Education Division at Wright-Patterson instructs public health technicians and public health officers in two primary roles, force health management and community health.

Air Force Public Health students study vectors of disease to better understand how some transmit pathogens, such as Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile viruses.

“Our primary mission is to educate newly accessed Airmen and officers and to provide upgrade and advanced training throughout their careers.” said Maj. Stephanie White, chief, Readiness and Entomology Branch.

The Public Health Education Division develops and implements Air Force Public Health curriculum to support Air Force and joint missions.  Each year, the staff of 29 personnel train more than 1,900 DoD graduates and conduct over 3,000 instruction hours.

Collectively, the division provides more than seven courses and five workshops, which are offered multiple times per year. It also contributes to a multitude of plans, training sets, community outreach projects, university collaborations, field consultation, and a quarterly public health newsletter.

Here, instructors develop and write curricula for all formal public health courses and workshops within USAFSAM.  They also serve as subject matter experts and develop Public Health Comprehensive Medical Readiness Program and Air Force Specialty Code training requirements in addition to Public Health Career Development Courses.

“When an Airman graduates from Public Health Apprentice training, they receive 13 Community College of the Air Force credits,” stated White.

Within the Division there are four separate Branches to address these topics, plus an Education and Training Branch.  Force health management training is addressed by the Force Health Management Branch and the Hearing Conservation Branch.

The Force Health Management Branch includes occupational health programs, such as fetal protection, pre- and post-deployment processing, Preventive Health Assessments and Aeromedical Services Information Management System. The Hearing Conservation branch provides oversight for courses that result in certification as AF Hearing Conservationists.

The Hearing Conservation Branch is separated from the Force Health Management Branch due to the large number of hearing conservation students and the fact that audiologists supervise hearing conservation training.

Community health training is divided into two branches. The Community Health Branch addresses communicable disease, food protection, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and HIV programs. The Readiness and Entomology branch handles disease containment, emergency response, medical intelligence and field sanitation and hygiene.  It also has an entomologist assigned to assist with entomology and vector surveillance instruction.

Furthermore, the Public Health Education Division actively sustains relationships and education opportunities with Defense Institute of Medical Operations, Wright State University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Defense Health Agency and the Air Force Institute of Technology.