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Focus Area for Epidemiology, Public Health, and Public Policy

Description of the Focus Area

This focus area is for students who are interested in a career that involves working with populations of animals, public health studies and/or policy, and/or epidemiology.

Recent/Current Number of Epidemiology/Public Health Focused Students


Identify and register with a faculty mentor who can advise on requirements and opportunities in this focus area.

These include although are not limited to the following faculty members

Steps to pursue a focus in epidemiology, public health and public policy

Year 1-3 Requirements

There are no required courses for years 1 through 3 beyond core coursework.

Year 1-3 Recommended Selective Courses

Year 1-3 Electives

Weekly focus area opportunities

Electives (one semester required)

VPH 650 Population Medicine forum – Wednesday, 4:30 - 5:30PM, room D-236; seminar-based course including topics in population health: Outbreak investigation, observational epidemiologic research, risk analysis, spatial analysis, the application of unique diagnostic technologies and epidemiologic modeling.


VMP 986 One Health-Philosophy to Practice - Tuesdays, 5:30 - 7:30PM, NC Biotech Center, RTP; Introduction to One Health and its implementation across disciplines; facilitate understanding of the interactions linking veterinary medicine, human medicine, and environmental health; and promote cross-campus and cross-discipline interactions.

Optional Electives

CBS 817/CBS 818 Advanced topics in zoological medicine – Thursday, 4.15pm, room B112; clinically oriented discussions of medical issues impacting free-ranging and captive populations.

Fourth-Year Required Rotations

Complete the core curriculum rotations

  1. VMP 977 Clinical Laboratory and Necropsy
  2. VMP 978 Clinical Pathology, Parasitology, and Immunology
  3. VMB 976 Radiology
  4. VMB 977 Anesthesia
  5. One surgery rotation:
    • VMC 973G Small Animal General Surgery
    • VMC 973O Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery
    • VMC 975 Equine Surgery
  6. One emergency rotation:
    • VMC 960 Small Animal Emergency
    • VMC 966 Equine Emergency
  7. One medicine rotation:
    • VMC 971 Small Animal Medicine (two-block rotation)
    • VMC 954 Small Animal Medicine for Food Animal Students (one-block rotation)
    • VMC 979 Equine Medicine (one-block rotation)
  8. Primary Care Course Requirement: see focus area leader with recommendations for fulfilling this requirement
  9. One population medicine course requirement:
    • VMP 970 Ruminant Health Management I
    • VMP 982 Poultry Health Management I
    • VMP 984 Swine Health Management I

9- 14. VMP 973 Special Topics in Epidemiology AND VMP 979 Epidemiology
Complete at least six blocks, with three blocks consecutive, in the two separate epidemiology rotations (12 weeks)

VMP 973 Special topics in epidemiology (Dr. Cowen) – local, national, international, student-originated studies; can involve marine mammals, birds, fish, wildlife, exotics, companion animals, horses, food animals, emerging diseases, foreign animal diseases, CDC, preventive medicine. Special topics project will be developed with a designated mentor. (*Note - the CDC externship will involve 3 consecutive blocks)

VMP 979 Epidemiology (Dr. Correa) – data analysis, study design, local and international experiences, animal shelter, exotics, wildlife, avian, swine operations, herd-health management

Students are strongly encouraged to consider the following rotations

VMP 958 Emerging and Exotic Diseases of Animals (Cowen) Iowa State University web-based “self-study” course to be taken as convenient, with subsequent case study/discussion section led by Dr. Cowen

VMP 999 Veterinary International Field Studies (Dr. Levy is the course coordinator. There are multiple mentors; Dr Correa mentors for focus area students) – field investigations of domestic and wild animal, bird, and aquatic species throughout the world

Student opportunities

Veterinary Student Public Health Corps (vet student club)

NC Division of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology

Suggested external program opportunities for students in the focus area

Food Safety Research Response Network

Summer internship program; summer stipend $4,500 apply on line

Epidemiology elective program– CDC for senior medical and veterinary students

NC State University veterinary students have participated in this program over the past several years. Veterinary students are increasingly appreciated at the CDC for their breadth of knowledge. The program is highly competitive.

The Epidemiology Program Office (EPO) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers an elective in epidemiology for senior medical and veterinary students. The purpose of the elective is to introduce preventive medicine, public health and the principles of applied epidemiology.

Students are offered the opportunity to actively assist in epidemiologic investigations of infectious diseases and areas such as cancer, congenital malformations, environmental and occupational diseases, injuries (intentional and unintentional), chronic diseases, and reproductive health and population dynamics. Students are exposed to the day-to-day operation of CDC's nationwide surveillance system.

Students will be involved in diverse projects to work on during their elective. Some participants have become co-authors on publications of major health importance. Other students receive experience in applied epidemiology through assisting in the investigation of public health problems throughout the United States, and the analysis of public health data.

Most elective assignments are based at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. However, students have been assigned to a state or local health department.

Students are often supervised by a member of a select group of "medical detectives" known as Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officers, many of whom are “alumni” of the epidemiology elective program.

Externships at North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Emergency Programs Division;

North Carolina is nationally recognized as a leader in Emergency Preparedness and Response to diseases that affect animal agricultural or have a public health impact. Students have taken summer and externship positions at the Emergency Programs Division working with emergency preparedness projects. This involves a wide range of activities that will help NC be prepared in case of an outbreak of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD), bioterrorism or agroterrorism threat. The emergency programs division utilizes a Geographic Information System interface, and is developing unique programs to monitor diseases in different animal populations. Contact Dr. Karen Beck

USDA APHIS eastern regional office, epidemiology division

Veterinarians working in animal disease control from USDA eastern regional office have participated in the epidemiology and public health curriculum at the College of Veterinary Medicine for several years. They contribute to the current VMP 945 and VMP 958 courses through involvement in small group discussions and individual lectures. Several USDA epidemiologists at the regional office are adjunct professors in the PHP department.

Students have arranged externships in conjunction with USDA personnel.

USDA FSIS Veterinary student employment with FSIS

Students will be assigned to an FSIS veterinarian as a mentor. They will observe and learn the role of in-plant veterinarians in ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products that reach the consumer. Students will spend time with other veterinarians in the Agency to understand the range of veterinary activities, visit an FSIS laboratory, the Technical Services Center, and the Headquarters in Washington , DC . Positions with an hourly salary will be available during vacations beginning May or June. The goal of the program is for the student to complete 640 hours of work and is designed to encourage first and second year student participation. USDA FSIS Information

NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Epidemiology section (from web site)

Students will have the opportunity to a) Investigate disease outbreaks and unusual situations and to implement measures to minimize further transmission of disease, b) Monitor disease-reporting by physicians and laboratories to detect trends and to assess the public health impact of disease, c) Contribute to the primary channel of communication between public health agencies, private physicians, and hospital and occupational infection control personnel, as an essential part of disease control efforts, d) Explain public health interventions and disseminate health education messages to the community and the media in order to enhance disease control efforts

Individual and targeted study opportunities

The focus area of epidemiology, public health and public policy provides a wealth of individual opportunities because of the diverse nature of the disciplines and the applicability of the methods and epidemiologic tools to generate critical information.

Summer research internships working with individual investigators are available at the CVM through the competitive Research Office scholars program

Externships can be obtained at CDC, Plum Island foreign animal disease laboratories (DHS), and USDA veterinary services eastern regional office. Specifically, an externship working on import/export and FAD's can be arranged at USDA-APHIS in the eastern regional office or in Washington DC (DrCorrea)

Other Useful Information

Useful web sites

Career Opportunities

USDA/APHIS state veterinary medical officers

Regional epidemiology positions (require additional degree), animal health surveillance, regulatory compliance, outbreak investigation, disease control and eradication

USDA/FSIS public health veterinarians

Public health veterinarians responsible for ensuring the safety of the commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products moving interstate or exported to other countries, is wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. Involved in epidemiology, pathology, and evaluation of food safety programs to reduce prevalence of food borne hazards

US Military

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

State Departments of Agriculture veterinary services

Veterinary medical officers, disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, disease control and eradication, biosecurity

State Departments of Public Health, Epidemiology

Other agencies that hire veterinary epidemiologists