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“Poster Child” for the Internet MPH

By Kristi Birch

When Brant Goode applied to be an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer in 1995, he didn’t expect to be accepted. “I knew I needed a master’s degree, but I thought, what the heck? They can only say no. And they did.” 

When he applied again in 2003, the EIS took him. The difference: eight years of experience and an MPH.

Goode, who earned an Internet-based MPH from the Bloomberg School in 2002, is one of seven nurses in the 2004 cohort of 88 EIS officers. The EIS is the epidemics detective agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officers—mostly doctors, researchers and scientists—serve two-year assignments with health agencies across the country combating everything from disease outbreaks to bioterrorism. In August, Goode began his assignment at the North Carolina Division of Public Health. 

Robert Lawrence, MD, associate dean for Professional Practice and Programs, says he writes half a dozen recommendation letters a year, and there are usually three or four acceptances—mostly for full-time graduate and doctoral students. 

“I wish there were more nurses,” Goode says. “There should be—nurses are the single largest group of health professionals. Nurses have a broad perspective more in line with how public health defines health; we look at families and communities more naturally.” 

As a disease intervention specialist at a Montana county health department, he was introduced to the EIS in 1995, when its officers came to Missoula to investigate an outbreak of E. coli 0157. Once they discovered that the outbreak’s source was contaminated lettuce, they stopped it.

After the EIS rejected his first application, Goode got a CDC-funded scholarship for the School’s Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) and then earned his MPH. He completed most of the degree over the Internet while working full-time. 

“Brant is the poster child for what we hoped the GCP and then the Internet MPH would offer people already working and unable to take a year off,” says Lawrence.