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Dental Therapy: Good news for Minnesota safety net clinics

Dental therapy, the newest oral healthcare profession in Minnesota, has firm roots in the state’s safety net clinics, found new research from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

Findings from the study indicate dental therapists are being used in innovative and diverse ways, allowing the dental therapy profession to continue to evolve in the way it addresses specific oral health care needs.

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U of M graduates first cohort of Saudi Arabia MHA students

A unique cohort of 25 Executive Master of Health Administration (MHA) students graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health having never before stepped foot in Minnesota, and having taken all of their classes while living in Saudi Arabia.

Similar to many students of the stateside MHA program, students of the Saudi Arabian program were all full-time professionals who completed a University of Minnesota MHA degree in 25 months.

The Saudi Arabia Executive MHA program launched at the King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) in Riyadh, Saudi in 2012. The program was the first of its kind available in Saudi Arabia and attracted healthcare professionals who wished to further grow their careers.

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Industrial Hygiene: How to protect workers from everyday hazards

Imagine putting up drywall without wearing a mask to filter out the dust, or cleaning up an oil spill without a full bodysuit to protect you. Sound crazy? As commonplace as health and safety practices are today, industrial hygiene regulations aren’t accidental.

The people responsible for worker health and safety regulations are industrial hygienists. At the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Division of Environmental Health Sciences, researchers like professor Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Ph.D., work to recognize, evaluate and control potential workplace hazards, including chemical, physical and biological agents. They also work to analyze the potential health threats to the community and the environment.

“The types of research that we conduct range from assessing chemical hazards in the workplace, to physical hazards such as noise, to biological hazards such as mold, bacteria and viruses,” said Ramachandran. “In our research we assess the exposures to workers in various situations such as mining, or the clean up efforts relating to the BP oil spill, test how well filters work, see how to reduce coal dust in mines and assess the smoke exposure of firefighters.”

Using mathematical equations, environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure, Ramachandran and his colleagues can assess and control potential health hazards.

“You can’t just tell every kind of worker to wear a protective mask and expect positive outcomes, because all working conditions are different,” said Ramachandran. “Each situation is different and calls for different protocols to ensure worker safety.”

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Food safety tips for traveling

Headed to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup? Already thinking about the tantalizing smells of colorful and delicious new foods? For some people, food is the reason to travel. But while the mouthwatering smell of new and exotic treats may call out to travelers’ taste buds, their stomachs may not always be up for the adventure.

It’s a common misconception that food abroad isn’t as “safe” as food at home. While true for some things, more often than not eating food abroad can cause illness because no matter how healthy you are, you haven’t developed defenses against all bacteria — especially bacteria foreign to you. Something as seemingly harmless as a piece of melon can wreak havoc on a person’s system if not properly prepared.

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Alarming number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans struggle accessing enough food

As many as 1 in 4 men and women who served in the U.S. military during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have difficulties accessing sufficient food, found new research from the University of Minnesota.

The study indicates limited or uncertain access to adequate food is a prevalent problem among the newest U.S. veterans, a previously unknown facet of the financial hardships affecting veterans.

“We found that 27 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have consistent access to sufficient food,” said lead author Rachel Widome, Ph.D., in University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “That’s drastically higher than the prevalence of food insecurity in the U.S., which is 14.5 percent.”

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U of M Voices: Exploring the nuances and complexities of global health

I had only one certainty when I decided to sign-up for the University of Minnesota’s Global Health Case Competition, and that was knowing I would be tackling a global health issue.

Little did I realize that a proposed strategy for how China should invest in sanitation, would lead to a national competition and the challenge of restructuring the World Health Organization (WHO). Even though I put in countless hours debating strategy and presentation late into the night with my team, I can definitively say I have gotten far more out of the experience than I put in.

As you may have already assumed, I did not become a global health expert over the course of two case competitions, but I did gain a stronger appreciation for the nuances and complexity of global health.

When solving global health challenges there are many factors to consider, but during the course of the competitions I found the following to be key: identify and consider all the stakeholders involved and the perspectives they bring to the situation; scalability and feasibility are vital – great ideas cannot become actionable without these; and maybe most importantly, the fact that there is no right solution, only the best one right now. The latter point is the reason it is vital for students at the University of Minnesota to pursue global health today and into the future.

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