College of Health and Human Sciences filling workforce needs statewide

3/21/2007 7:00:00 AM

The state department of Health and Human Services is enlisting the help of the College of Health and Human Sciences to fill several critical public health positions in the state.

Vacancies range from social workers assisting the mentally ill and family service specialists placing foster children to health specialists working to prevent and prepare for disease outbreaks like avian flu and anthrax.

Richelle O'Driscoll, the University's first associate dean for workforce development, is helping connect the University's resources with the state's needs to bridge the gap. Her position is funded through a grant from the Nevada State Health Division.

"Workforce development is a critical problem currently facing the U.S.," said Bradford Lee, Nevada State Heath Officer. "The University plays a major role in supplying the intellectual capital needed to fill several important positions; however it will take a team effort to properly deal with the shortage which is why we contacted the University to create this position."

Driscoll sees her role as a single part of a larger strategy.

"My position is one part of a three-pronged opportunity," O'Driscoll said. "I look forward to collaborating with others in order to address the workforce development issue, enhance the college's community based practices and continue conducting cutting-edge research."

"No other college on campus has an associate dean specifically devoted to workforce development initiatives," said Charles Bullock, acting dean for the College of Health and Human Sciences.

"It is critical we increase awareness among Health and Human Science students. There are several fantastic job possibilities for the college's graduates as well as internship opportunities for current students at the state and county levels."

O'Driscoll is identifying internship opportunities for students while providing graduates with a clear understanding of how to navigate the Health Division application process.

"Internships are an important part of the educational experience for University students," O'Driscoll said. "Students learn in a practical environment while working at a level that is appropriate, earning the proper pre-requisites to pursue full-time employment with the Health Division."

O'Driscoll is also spearheading professional development programming to enhance the skills and training Health Division professionals need to advance within the system. Programming in development includes educating professionals on how to give testimony at the Nevada legislature and manage a budget, for example.

Lee added that O'Driscoll was ideal for the position because of her broad knowledge of workforce development concepts suited her for the job.

"We recognized Richelle's astuteness in terms of her knowledge of higher education and her ability to build strong connections with all deans and the president at the University," Lee said. "She has hit the ground running and knows how to transition students and graduates from academia into the workforce."

O'Driscoll had previously served the University as director of Extended Studies' management and executive development program.

"I want the college of Health and Human Sciences to be a model for the region and the nation in terms of things universities and colleges can do to collaborate and address workforce development issues," O'Driscoll said.

Our goal is to supply Nevada with knowledgeable graduates from the University who are transitioning into the workplace to meet the public health needs of this growing state. Jill Boudreaux, media relations specialist, can be reached at jboudreaux@unr.edu.


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