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No Person is an Island – The Imperative for Partnerships in Public Health

When Donne first shared the notion that no person is an island he could scarcely have imagined the intricate web that is global public health today.  When we envision our futures, it is impossible not to see all of the people that engage and collaborate at the local, national, and global level. Today, public health is reliant upon rich, interconnected network of organizations—working to understand and address the interrelated needs of communities and populations and to serve humanity at every level. 

As Dean of the health college at one of the fastest growing and most diverse universities in the country, the strength we draw from cooperation and community-building is top of mind on Public Health Thank You Day. We are indeed thankful for our many collaborators and our commitment to collaboration is reflected in the initiatives we prioritize to develop the health workforce, advance interprofessional curriculum, and integrate academics and practice.

Initiatives such as the ASTHO-Mason Collaborative and the Claude Moore Scholars program focus on engaging students and professionals throughout their careers. The goals of such programs are to reinforce the critical thinking and leadership skills required to solve the complex issues we face and to develop a public health workforce that reflects the communities we serve today—and will serve in the future. By collaborating with local health departments, such as Fairfax County Health Department, we are able to provide new pathways for cohorts of leaders who wish to further their foundational public health knowledge.

Our Mason and Partners Clinics model is an excellent example of working with our partners in the community to identify areas of unmet need—and cooperatively find solutions. Together, we’ve created a bridge care model for the social determinants and health care needs of our most vulnerable populations. Most importantly, we strive to create intersections between academics and practice to make population health research and teaching accessible to aspiring and current practitioners, and our new Population Health Center is a case in point. Thanks to our many partners in public health, we are finding that the opportunities are truly limitless when we venture from our islands.