(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health and U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School have entered into an affiliation agreement for the HSC-SRPH to provide classes to students in the Community Health Practices Branch of the Department of Preventive Health Services in the Academy of Health Sciences.

As a result, the students can now earn graduate-level college credits for selected courses that are currently part of their military public health training. Based at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas, the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School (AMEDDC&S) provides virtually all public health training to the U.S. Army.

Public health professionals within the armed services recognized the need to collaborate with and learn from schools of public health due to the changing nature of public health and new challenges presented. AMEDDC&S students will learn the latest in core public health skills, health policy and management, enabling them to plan, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a broad range of public health interventions.

While the Army training is tailored to military populations, the classes from the HSC-SRPH lay a foundation of core public health knowledge that may be translated into any setting.

“The affiliation of the School of Rural Public Health and the Army Medical Department Center & School Department of Preventive Health Services at Fort Sam Houston represents a new collaborative vision that provides the Army with an accredited public health professional curriculum and an opportunity for joint research endeavors with a major health-related academic and research institution,” said Antonio Rene, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate dean of Academic Affairs and director of Distance and Distributed Learning at HSC-SRPH.

Students will be able to earn graduate-level credit hours toward completion of a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree. The core public health courses that students will participate in include epidemiology, public health policy and management, and public environmental and occupational health.

This new opportunity will potentially shorten the length of time required to earn an M.P.H. degree by up to a semester.

In return, HSC-SRPH students will be able to collaborate and learn from public health professionals at AMEDDC&S with experience in humanitarian aid, infrastructure rebuilding, civil affairs and managing public health programs on military installations worldwide. Students also will have access to large data sets and expanded possibilities for research project collaborations, practicum experiences and graduate student projects.

“The training program offered to military personnel is for officers of the active and reserve components whose actual or anticipated assignment is to a preventive medicine program or unit or to preventive medicine related duties within their specialty area,” Dr. Rene said. “The future collaboration of Army, Navy and Air Force medical training centers to the Army Medical Department Center and School as part of the military’s new Joint Medical Training Center will also serve to strengthen the relationship with the School of Rural Public Health.”

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its seven colleges located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell