CHS Student Develops COVID-19 Training Modules for Peers
Second-year Master of Public Health (MPH) student Dennis Nyachoti is working with the UTEP Dean of Students Office and the UTEP Recovery Task Force to develop training modules related to COVID-19 that will be released to all UTEP students.
Nyachoti was approached by Cynthia Wittenburg, lecturer in the Department of Public Health Sciences and MPH practicum coordinator, who encouraged him and fellow MPH students to develop themes around the COVID-19 pandemic. Nyachoti was paired with Dr. Catie McCorry-Andalis, Dean of Students, in the practicum experience. The pair settled on developing the training modules and health messages to be included in the university communication master plan, as the theme for the experience.
As the plan for the modules began to take shape, Nyachoti consulted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites to ensure the information he would present was up to date and accurate. He also investigated available literature on the subject to see other universities’ plans for reopening in the fall.
“As I consulted the CDC and WHO websites, I was also thinking about what particular information would be most relevant to students and the UTEP community,” Nyachoti said. “In my literature search, I focused on looking for the best ways to engage students and university communities on health and safety behavior change. I was particularly impressed by how various higher learning institutions involved students, faculty, and staff in decision-making.
In early June, Nyachoti presented a draft of the modules at a student leadership meeting to gather feedback and input from the students’ perspective.
“Some of the feedback included the desire for more infographics and videos in the training, rather than just PowerPoint slides. They also suggested a short and interactive module capturing students’ attention,” said Nyachoti. “They were very interested in seeing the information about COVID-19 symptoms presented on imagery and having the university mascot, ‘Pete,’ on the pictures. The students also wanted to know if testing would be offered on campus.”
Following his meeting with students’ representatives, Nyachoti began meeting regularly with members of the Recovery Task Force to hone the communication plan for the training, which will be managed and produced by University Communications (UC).
The next several weeks before the release of the modules will involve several deadlines, including the creation of the videos (UTEP Creative Services) and final approval by UTEP leadership. If all goes as planned, the modules will be released in August.
Nyachoti, who will graduate this summer from UTEP and begin his Doctor of Public Health degree at the UT Houston School of Public Health this fall, said the experience has helped him develop professionally in his field.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Nyachoti. “COVID-19 is a global public health crisis, and many people will be talking about it for decades to come. I’m so proud to have contributed to promoting health and saving lives during this pandemic. And one of the most exciting things about this project is the opportunity to share the knowledge and skills gained in my MPH degree and putting that into practice among my peers.”
For more information about the Master of Public Health Program, please visit: https://www.utep.edu/chs/phs/index.html