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NECC and UMass Lowell Create New Public Health Information Pathway Programs

Submitted by on September 14, 2022 – 7:07 pm

A new partnership between UMass Lowell and Northern Essex Community College is addressing the need for more public health workers, by creating new pathways in public health informatics and technology. NECC is working closely with UMass Lowell on course design for two courses so that Public Health Informatic courses taken at NECC will transfer seamlessly to UMass Lowell.

These students began studying this fall in UMass Lowell’s new track in public health informatics and technology within the master’s of public health program. (UMass Lowell courtesy photo)

“Northern Essex Community College will offer a fully online Introduction to Health Informatics course beginning October 31. In January 2023, we will offer the second course: Exploring Public Health Informatics,” said NECC professor Jacqueline Dick. “NECC has worked in collaboration with UMass Lowell to design the course content, and we are excited for this opportunity to introduce students to an emerging Public Health area of study.”

Classes will combine computer science, public health, and business.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for UMass Lowell to work with community and educational partners to enhance the public health infrastructure in the Merrimack Valley,” said UMass Lowell Public Health Prof. Dan Berlowitz, chair of the department.

Lowell resident Lawreta Kankam, who, in May, received her UMass Lowell bachelor’s degree in public health, is working as an academic adviser for the new programs. This semester, she is also among the first cohort at the university to pursue her master’s degree in the specialty.

“I’m excited this program will provide me – and students like me – additional training in this important area of public health. I’m proud UMass Lowell decided to offer this coursework, anticipating the needs of the evolving workforce,” Kankam said.

The new programs are funded by a $3.2 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information as part of the Public Health Informatics and Technology (PHIT) Workforce Development Program. The initiative, funded through the American Rescue Plan, seeks to strengthen public health capacity and bring more diversity to the field.

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we can invest in growing our nation’s public health workforce today to better meet the needs of tomorrow. And as we work to expand talent, whether it’s in the field of technology or public health informatics, we will do so with an eye towards promoting diversity,” said the United States Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra when announcing the creation of the PHIT Workforce Program.

Community partners working with UMass Lowell to provide such opportunities and ensure the new academic programs meet local job needs include the Lowell Health Department, the Lawrence Board of Health, the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Lowell General Hospital, the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, the UMass Chan Medical School Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science, LLX Solutions, and Academic Public Health Corp.

About NECC 
Northern Essex Community College, the first Federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution in New England, is an education leader for the Merrimack Valley. Through a supportive learning environment and cultural inclusion, NECC embraces all identities and inspires initiative and excellence through top-notch affordable certificate and associate degree programs online and at campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence. NECC offers many bachelor’s degree transfer options, workforce development, and community education classes and is host to the NECC Police Academy, MassHire Merrimack Valley, and Gallaudet University’s Regional Center for the deaf and hard of hearing. Visit Northern Essex online at