Online degree works for Amarillo public health director
Caring for 250,000 people in addition to your own family can be a challenging job.
So when Casie Stoughton, RN, MPH, decided to pursue a public health graduate degree, she knew the best option would be through online study (SPH Master of Public Health Professional Option).
At the time, Stoughton was serving as Assistant Director for the City of Amarillo Department of Public Health. She has since been promoted to the Director position and credits her advanced degree from the UNTHSC School of Public Health as being important in helping her career move forward.
“One of my mentors is our former director, Matt Richardson, who received his MPH and DrPH degrees through the UNTHSC School of Public Health and is now the Denton County Health Director,” Stoughton said. “Matt is a big supporter of the school and encouraged me to take the next step. Being in Amarillo, I live a great distance away from schools of public health, so finding the online option was perfect for me.”
Stoughton manages a staff of 35 public health workers, with responsibility for TB clinics and immunizations, refugee health, public health preparedness, surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases, and epidemiology study/analysis related to patterns, causes and effects of local population health.
“Having a background of 10-plus years in public health really made the degree come alive for me,” she said. “I was able to apply my ‘boots on the ground’ field experiences toward the class work. Not only has it broadened my horizons, it also validates what we do each day in our jobs and why.”
Stoughton’s favorite part of the job is when she’s out in the community, working directly with local residents or solving a problem.
“Being able to ‘touch’ our clients personally is important. And of course, there are many meetings, and I also work closely with the media, as they are key to helping us get our messages to the community,” she said.
Stoughton said she “absolutely recommends” the UNTHSC School of Public Health and encourages her staff to pursue advanced degrees for further career development.
“We’ve been fortunate that the city allows me to budget for staff education, to help our people become even stronger in their roles as part of the team taking care of the health and welfare of our community,” she said.
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