George Washington University Students Win Public Health Challenge

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named food safety, tobacco use, and HIV on its top ten list of major public health issues plaguing the United States. No doubt, finding solutions to these difficult problems will require time, resources, and above all, extremely well-educated professionals.

So what are the country’s universities doing to prepare students to become future leaders in public health?

For the last four years, the National Academy of Sciences has sponsored the “DC Public Health Case Challenge” in a continued effort to bring greater awareness to public health concerns specific to the local community. The annual event is exclusively open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in universities throughout the DC area.

The competition calls on students to create groups with between five and six members. Each team is required to hold students from at least three different public health disciplines. Once formed, teams receive a case designed by nonparticipating students that outlines a locally applicable public health issue. Teams are given a two-week deadline to compose a feasible solution.

This year’s challenge topic of focus was “The Changing American City and Implication for Health and Well-being of Vulnerable Populations.” Teams were allotted a suppositional budget of $2 million. According to the National Academy of Medicine, the expert judge panel assessed each team’s response based on several factors, such as:

  • Analysis of problem
  • Appropriateness/justification of solution
  • Acceptability of solution
  • Implementation considerations
  • Potential for sustainability
  • Creativity/innovation
  • Interdisciplinary/multisectoral
  • Presentation/delivery

On October 16, the George Washington University student team was officially declared the 2016 Grad Prize winners for their solution entitled “Communities for Collective Action (C4CA).” The C4CA proposal offered an intervention tactic that would essentially:

  • Encourage greater vocalization within communities
  • Enable better access to community information and resources
  • Advocate cross-sector cooperation

Other award-winners from the 2016 DC Public Health Case Challenge included:

  • Howard University: Practicality Prize
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: Practicality Prize
  • American University: Harrison C. Spencer Interprofessional Prize