As cities and states reopen their economies, there is an urgent need to ramp-up contact-tracing capacity. In fact, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of contact tracers are needed in the United States. In response to the high demand for one of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S., Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing has launched a new, online public health certificate course on COVID-19, contact tracing and risk-reduction.
The five-week, 15-hour course does not require a college degree and costs $270. The program is scheduled from June 29 to Aug. 7 and is open to the general public for adults age 18 and older with a high school diploma or equivalent and a variety of work experiences and educational backgrounds.
During the coursework, participants will have an introduction to the science of public health and its relevance in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with an emphasis on the role of contact tracing. Contact tracing is vital in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and uses methods to find and follow up with individuals who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The FAU certificate course will provide background on the steps and resources necessary to set up a contact-tracing program including the primary components of a contact-tracing protocol, including investigating cases, tracing contacts, isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and monitoring cases.
“Through the lens of caring science, participants in our new certificate program will learn the essential skills required for successful contact-tracing programs such as effective communication and interviewing, working with diverse populations, requirements for protecting health information, basic ethical principles, and the use of emerging technological solutions,” said Shirley Gordon, Ph.D., a professor in FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing who is spearheading the program with Tarsha Jones, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the college. “In addition, participants will develop strategies for self-care.”
Course objectives include the introduction of public health and its role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Concepts such as populations, communities, and social determinants of health also will be explored. Participants will learn the basic principles of epidemiology (outbreak, epidemic, pandemic, types of immunity, modes of transmission, incubation and infectious periods) and basic facts about COVID-19 (current symptoms, transmission, high-risk populations, types of testing, vaccine development, treatment, and risk-reduction).
The certificate program will include narrated lectures, guest experts, readings, videos, case studies, active learning activities, glossary of important terms, knowledge check practice quizzes, post module quizzes, and virtual community of scholars. Upon completion of the online course, participants will receive a certificate and digital badge.
“The United States needs approximately 300,000 contact tracers in order to effectively contain the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus and COVID-19 pandemic. This country is lagging far behind in contact tracing compared to several other countries,” said Safiya George, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. “We have experts in public health and infectious diseases who can help make a difference. This new certificate is our way of helping to address these issues by preparing individuals who have a better understanding of the current pandemic, virus transmission, infection control and how to conduct contact tracing.”