In an effort to train health and safety professionals to provide care and prevention services to agricultural producers and their families, as well as those who work in processing of raw agricultural products, the College of Community Health Sciences’ Department of Community and Rural Medicine offered a comprehensive week-long training course on Agricultural Medicine. The course, held May 12-16 at the College, focused on Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals.
The target audience of the course included physicians, nurses and other health and safety professionals, such as extension agents, rehabilitation counselors, emergency medicine personnel, health professions students and others interested in the health and safety of agricultural community. Approximately 30 people were in attendance including students of The University of Alabama Rural Scholars Program, College faculty and staff and others from various backgrounds around the Southeast.
A similar course was first held by the University of Iowa in 1974 in response to an epidemic of occupational disease and traumatic death and injury in the face of diminishing local and federal resources. Over the last 40 years, more than 400 health care and safety professionals have been equipped with the information and skills necessary to provide clinical and preventive services to the agricultural sector.
The University of Alabama was selected to participate in the University of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH) Building Capacity Grant which provides $8,000 per state to plan and implement an Agricultural Medicine Training Course like the one offered by the University of Iowa. The grant is funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Susan Guin, MSN, CRNP, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine and the coordinator of the training course, reached out to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program to review and revise the course materials supplied by ICASH to reflect the agricultural environment in Alabama and the Southeast.
“For this program to be successful,” Guin said, “the differences in climate, culture, commodity, etc. must be addressed.”
The curriculum included presentations from College faculty and other UA faculty as well as guest lecturers from Auburn University, Tuskegee University, the University of Iowa and Purdue University.