Three environmental health science majors at East Central University have been selected to participate in federal internships and will be assigned to the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program (COSTEP).
Starting their assignments in May will be Elizabeth Cookson, a junior from Muskogee, assigned to the Indian Health Service in Albuquerque, N.M.; Brandon Parker, a junior from Lawton, assigned to the Native Health Corporation in Bethel, Alaska; and, Brook Burrows, a senior from Ada, assigned to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service in Fort Defiance, Ariz.
An internship is one of ECU's requirements for completing a degree in environmental health science.
The Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services and is led by the surgeon general of the United States. Selection into the COSTEP program for environmental health science students is highly competitive. Only students from accredited undergraduate programs in environmental health science like ECU's are eligible to participate.
Dr. Patrick O. Bohan, a retired captain in the USPHS, an ECU assistant professor of environmental health science and a student adviser, said being selected into these programs demonstrates the quality of the students and the excellent reputation of ECU's Environmental Health Science program.
In fact, 44 of the nearly 350 officers in the environmental health category of the Commissioned Corps are graduates of ECU's environmental health science program. ECU has placed more graduates in the environmental health category than any other institution in the country, Bohan said.
"Our students have a well-rounded education in the field of environmental health science that includes much of what employers need," Bohan said. "Our students learn about theory and practice in such areas as occupational health and safety, food protection, air and water quality, hazardous waste, toxicology, community health and epidemiology."
The Commissioned Corps is made up of approximately 7,000 professionals who carry Navy equivalent ranks. The three students assigned to the USPHS will be commissioned as ensigns during their three-month tours.
"Each of these students has an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand experience in their discipline while working for a top-notch agency. We are very proud of their accomplishments and know they will represent ECU very well. This opportunity also has excellent career possibilities for them," said Bohan who completed a 26-year career with the USPHS before moving to Ada from his last duty assignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Commissioned Corps includes a broad range of disciplines besides environmental health such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, engineering, dentistry and veterinary medicine.
Officers are assigned to such federal agencies as the Indian Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Park Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Prisons.
To learn more about the Environmental Health Sciences program at ECU, contact Dr. Doug Weirick, department chair, at 580-559-5548.
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