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World AIDS Day: Getting to Zero

By Wendy Plager, Student Services Specialist, Health Careers Center, University of Minnesota

Every December 1st, in an observation called "World AIDS Day," people around the world participate in education and advocacy efforts towards the fight against AIDS and HIV infections.

HIV-hands.jpgWorld AIDS Day is here and now is the time for pre-health students to start planning events on campus to raise awareness about this challenging disease. From 2011 - 2015, the theme for World AIDS Day has been "Getting to Zero" with the goal of: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

HIV/AIDS: How Many Have It?
Some people may feel that HIV does not affect them; however, this is not always the case. Roughly 35 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV, with over 1.2 million people in the United States (1). Of those infected in the U.S., almost 1 in 5 is not aware of their positive status - in other words, they do not know they have HIV infections (2). This puts them at a higher risk of infecting others and not getting the treatment they need to live a long life. This statistic supports the needs for HIV prevention techniques to prevent transmission. As HIV/AIDS cases and infections are more prevalent in other countries, the disease spread continues to require major public health intervention with teaching around sexual practices and testing surveillance to prevent the spread of the virus to unsuspecting individuals. These interventions will help improve survival rates throughout the world.

How Students Can Get Involved Now and in the Future
Getting involved in campaigns like World AIDS Day is a great way for students to learn about the world around them, help solve problems, and demonstrate their leadership skills.

Here are some ideas of how your students can get involved with World AIDS Day now or in the future:

1. Movie Screening*: Show a movie and follow it with a discussion, hosted by health care providers or nonprofits who work with AIDS patients. For example, movies such as, "How to Survive a Plague" or "We Were Here" could be great choices. (*Make sure to gain the proper permission rights to show any film. For information on screening "How to Survive a Plague", email To screen "We Were Here," go to this site:

AIDS_ribbon.jpg2. Fundraiser: Host a fundraiser. Sell red ribbons to raise money for a local AIDS/HIV support program or HIV testing facility in your community.

3. Information Booth: Set up a booth on campus to share facts about AIDS/HIV, discuss sexual health, and provide education on prevention of the disease. Consider passing out free condoms, if it is supported by your institution.

4. Write-a-Thon: Have a "Write-a-Thon" to encourage students to write letters to the government or media, sharing why funding AIDS related causes is important to them.

5. Create Artwork: Create your own campus HIV/AIDS quilt or other form of art. Have the art displayed in the student center or other visible areas on campus during the month of December.

Concluding Thoughts
Even with our advances in scientific interventions with therapeutics and a recent possible vaccine breakthrough (3), continued research and approval will take time for drug development. Continued educational efforts in raising HIV/AIDS awareness are needed to reduce the spread of this virus. The fight is not over. Not yet!

1) World Health Organization
2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3) The Telegraph

Images: World AIDS Day Media Kit; Clip Art


In an article on November 4, 2013, by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the issue of students going abroad to gain hands-on experience is addressed. Here is an excerpt from this article:

"Far too often, experts say, students are providing patient care--conducting examinations, suturing wounds, even delivering babies--for which they have little or no training. Indeed, as competition intensifies for medical-school slots, some students may actually be going overseas for hands-on experience they could not get in the United States, in hopes of giving their applications a competitive edge.

Instead, they could be putting their own health and that of foreign patients at risk, and putting colleges and study-abroad providers at risk of legal liability."

One of the Health Careers Center staff members, Tricia Todd, MPH, is quoted extensively in this article and has been at the forefront of this issue, along with key collaborators, such as Martha Johnson, Assistant Dean for Learning Abroad at the University of Minnesota, among others.

To learn about this increasing important issue, read the full article online here: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Do you have students who are traveling abroad to gain experience?

If so, encourage them to complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety online workshop before they go. The workshop is free and open to all, but registration is required.

Look here for details and registration on the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety workshop.


Staff Member Receives 2013 Woodward Award in Public Health

The Health Careers Center would like to congratulate its own assistant director, Tricia Todd, MPH, for winning the 2013 W. C. Woodward Award from the American Public Health Association.

This award is given to a health administration member who has advanced the practice of health administration through outstanding leadership and contributions in a management or educational setting and who has provided significant service in that area. Tricia received the award at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston on November 5, 2013.

In addition to holding the title as the assistant director for the Health Careers Center, Tricia is an instructor in the Public Health Practice major in the School of Public Health, from which she is a graduate of the Public Health Administration and Policy program.

Tricia has been involved in workforce and leadership development related activities for fifteen years. She began her career working in the field of public health with the Minnesota Department of Health and local public health agencies assessing and responding to workforce and public health infrastructure development needs.

Tricia was heavily involved in the creation of two public health initiatives - the Emerging Leaders Network, a leadership development program created to identify and nurture future leaders in public health, and the Pathways to Public Health project, a program designed to encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to get advanced education in public health.

She is a graduate of the National Public Health Leadership Institute, and was a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Turning Point Leadership Collaborative, and has directed the North Central Public Health Leadership Institute - a regional institute covering Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Tricia has served as the president of the Minnesota Public Health Association, as a representative to the American Public Health Association Governing Board, and is a past-chair of the American Public Health Association Health Administration Section.

Congratulations, Tricia, on this prestigious award!


Profession Highlight: Funeral Directors

Contributed by: Michael P. LuBrant, Ph.D., Director, Program of Mortuary Science, University of Minnesota

Throughout history, men and women have served as caretakers of the dead in service to surviving family members, friends, and loved ones. Funeral directors today serve the living by caring for the disposition of deceased persons in a manner that is caring, empathic, and proficient. Read more to learn about this interesting and unique profession, that many students may not immediately think about as a career choice.

Why Funeral Service as a Profession
Most students in mortuary science say that they chose a career in funeral service because they wanted to help grieving families at a very difficult time in their lives. Many of students explain that it was the caring, supportive role a funeral director played in serving their own family when a loved one died that influenced their decision to pursue a career in funeral service.

Students must be caring and empathetic in all capacities, in preparing for their roles funeral directors. Like most health career fields, funeral service is not a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 job. People die around the clock, every day (including weekends and holidays), and there is always a need for caring individuals who desire to serve grieving families through the work of funeral service, regardless of the time of day or day of the week throughout the year.

Read online here for student testimonials on why these students became funeral directors: Student Testimonials

Different Cultures, Different Needs
One of the aspects about funeral service that makes the profession interesting is that no two families are the same. In funeral service today, a funeral director typically serves families from a variety of cultural, ethnic, religious (or non-religious) traditions and backgrounds.

One day a funeral director might, for example, serve a Catholic family who desires a visitation with an open casket, followed by earth burial; the next day, they may serve a Hindu family for whom cremation without embalming is the preferred method of disposition.

Because no two funerals are alike, work in funeral service both challenging and rewarding: Each family has different wants and needs, and as a funeral director, your role is to provide caring service for the purpose of helping a family move forward in their grief following the death of a loved one.

Federal and State Oversight
In the United States today, the disposition of the dead is regulated in every state by rule, statute, and/or ordinance. In order to work as a funeral director and/or embalmer, most states require the completion of at least two years of college education.

In Minnesota, funeral service practitioners are licensed under the legal title of "mortician," and a mortician's licenses allows an individual to practice both funeral directing and embalming. Minnesota requires the completion of four years of college to practice mortuary science.

The Program of Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota -- now 105 years old -- serves as the only funeral service education program in the State, and enrolls approximately 60 students annually between the Junior and Senior year classes. Approximately 86% of all Minnesota funeral directors have graduated from the University of Minnesota program.

Funeral service practitioner license requirements vary by state. If you are advising students in another state other than Minnesota, check with the state on the requirements and level of education needed to enter the profession in that state.

Learn More By Talking to Professionals in the Field
At the University of Minnesota, we strongly encourage interested students to discuss their interest in funeral service by speaking with either their family funeral director -- or if they do not know a funeral director personally -- a funeral director in their community. Many practitioners welcome inquiries from prospective students.

Students are also welcome to contact our office for assistance in finding a funeral director with whom to speak. Contact us at (612) 624-6464 or look on our website for more information about our program, as well as information about a career in funeral service:

The University of Minnesota program has a vibrant student association and our student leaders would be happy to talk with you about their experience in the program. Please contact the Program office for information for our mortuary science student association (MSSA) officers.

How Your Students Can Learn More
In addition to talking to funeral directors in the field and students in the program, prospective students can learn more about funeral service through these international, national and state associations and boards.

Want to Visit the U of M?
If you have an interested student, who would like to sit in on one of our non-laboratory classes open to non-matriculated students, please contact our office for more information: (612) 624-6464. We welcome prospective student visits to our courses, with the exception of our laboratory classes.

Thank you for your interest in mortuary science at the University of Minnesota - we look forward to meeting you!

Michael P. LuBrant, Ph.D.
Program Director


$10 Million Gift to the U of M School of Nursing

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing announced that it has received a grant from the Bentson Foundation for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) scholarships.

For details and the full story, read the article at the School of Nursing's website:

$10 Million Gift Aimed at Transforming Health Care Delivery through Nursing


About This Blog

This blog is produced by the University of Minnesota Health Careers Center staff. Have an idea for a story or article? Send your ideas to us at

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