Students Offered Public Health Contact Tracer Training Course

Dominican University and the County of Marin have entered a partnership that will enable the University to offer a public health contact tracing course to its students beginning this fall semester.

The one-credit course is designed to train Dominican students to work as contact tracers as part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact investigation and tracing involves ascertaining the personal contacts of individuals who have tested positive for a disease to inform them of the need to be tested due to possible exposure.

“It is a century-old public health strategy for communicable disease control. The course is open to all students, with a preference for juniors and seniors,” says Patti Culross, MD, MPH, and director of Dominican’s Global Public Health program.

“This pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – hopefully. Obviously, there is no way we could ever have planned such a formative learning opportunity,” she adds. “Students will have meaningful participation in an important public health function and in an event that has so unsettled and shaped everyone's lives.”

Watch ABC7 KGO-TV Story On Dominican's Contact Tracer Training Course

Marin County Health and Human Services is providing funding for the online course. Dominican was approached in May by the Marin County Department of Public Health to discuss the possibility of creating a contact tracing course for Dominican students.

“This was fortuitous timing since the Global Public Health program had been brainstorming ideas about how to involve our students in contact tracing,” Culross notes.

Students will first complete a free online COVID-19 contact tracing course developed by Johns Hopkins University and used in training by the County of Marin. They can then apply to the County for tracer positions for course credit. The synchronous part of the course will be a series of one-hour discussions with County staff about COVID-19 in Marin, the contact tracer job requirements, and how the County functions. Students selected to work for the County will be invited to share their experiences during later sessions. Contact tracers work with the County remotely.

A part-time faculty member in the School of Health and Natural Sciences will coordinate the course and manage students for both the didactic and practicum parts of the course. Course enrollment is currently limited to a maximum of 20 students.

Dominican’s work will help the Marin County Department of Public Health determine the level of exposure to COVID-19 and set a course of action for any individual to take regardless of the situation they find themselves in to help slow the spread of the virus.

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