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Augusta University sees spike in interest for epidemiology program

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 11:27 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As we wade out of this pandemic, many of our local medical students are finding they’re not ready to leave it all behind.

Augusta University says its epidemiology program is taking off, giving students the chance to study epidemics and pandemics on a deeper level.

The program began in the fall of 2021, with only four students enrolled. As the June 15 deadline approaches, applicants have doubled.

Leaders with the program say they started working to create the program well before COVID-19, but the pandemic highlighted the need and likely elevated the interest.

“COVID might play a role because we have a fear factor and remember recent events very well,” said Dr. K.M. Islam, associate professor of epidemiology and public health, MCG.

As doctors reflect on the pandemic, the need for epidemiologists is obvious.

“Epidemiologists play a very core and critical role in any epidemic disease investigations,” he said.

That’s their job, studying diseases, the causes, and how they spread. But what exactly is the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

“The difference between epidemic and pandemic is the number of cases and area of the population spread,” he said.

COVID-19 is considered a pandemic instead of an epidemic. As more people enter the public health field, epidemiologists are hopeful they can understand the long-term impact of COVID-19 on our community.

He says there is a lot of interest in the program, and he is hopeful it will keep increasing as the years go on.

“We wanted to know, what is happening in our population because the disease outcome, disease distribution, and risk factor varies from population to population,” said Islam.

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