The Missoula City-County Health Department and the University of Montana have teamed up to create a new Academic Health Department. The UM side of the organization is based in the University’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences. Director and Health Officer Ellen Leahy explains.

“We get more involved with educating the public heath workforce,” Leahy said. “They get more involved with their faculty assistance, technical assistance and updating and training our professionals. We have joint research projects on some very important topics like wildfire smoke. We have also had some on the ground projects working in some of our neighborhoods to try to improve health conditions. It is a very exciting commitment.”

According to Leahy, the students can help the Missoula City-County Heath Department with some of their epidemiological work.

“They already to help with those types of things and we are going to see more of that,” Leahy said. “We hope that by working with us that we are helping them show their students what it is really like to be out there working in public health. I also just want to point out that Montana is the 21st state in the nation that has an arrangement like this between public health practice and academia. It is a growing trend and we are really glad to be a part of it.”

Leahy says Missoula’s new American Health Department is the only one in Montana.