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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Engagement Incentive Grant Awardee Ellyn Mulcahy

Engaging Public Health and Academia

Dr. Ellyn Mulcahy, director of the Master of Public Health Program (MPH) and associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, is collaborating with health departments and extension agents in Kansas to help students in the MPH program gain real-world experience before starting a career in public health.


The MPH program is an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary program that connects faculty and students from 13 academic departments. Mulcahy’s grant project, "Engaging Public Health Practice and Academia: A Model for Public Health Partnership at Kansas State University," will help public health students gain field experience and prepare for a career in an area with critical workforce shortages such as rural and agricultural public health, epidemiology, food safety, and veterinary medicine.


“I would like students involved in this project to really get a sense of what a career in public health looks like,” said Mulcahy. “Not in the academic sense at all, but really in the practical delivery and skills of public health, which is needed for a large state like Kansas that has very different communities and socioeconomic populations.” Mulcahy has set out to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with Kansas public health agencies, in hopes to create long-term, sustainable relationships to promote and advance academic public health.

“This project will help the students and help the program because it will allow us to have more reach with communities in terms of finding field experience for our students,” said Mulcahy.

Mulcahy says this program could be helpful for health departments, extension offices and other public health agencies with wellness or health coalitions in the county. The resource of an academic partner could be beneficial if they are looking for help with funding, their community health assessment or other tasks.


“A lot of academic institutions, not just Kansas State, but institutions in other states help or can help with those types of scenarios for health departments, extension and wellness coalitions,” says Mulcahy. “We are involved in some of that already, like here in Riley County for example, but we certainly could be doing more to help other communities.” Although the project is only in its beginning stages, Mulcahy has high hopes. She is currently assembling a team of public health faculty, students, local health department personnel and extension agents that will help with the project moving forward. Mulcahy hopes to complete the project by the end of 2018.