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O’Neal to Address UGA Public Health Graduates

May 1, 2014

Graduates in the class of 2014 at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health will hear words of wisdom from one of Georgia’s top public health leaders. J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of health protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health, will deliver the college’s commencement address on Fri., May 9, during graduation ceremonies in Athens, Georgia.

O’Neal, who has served in Georgia public health since 2002 after more than three decades as an emergency physician, said he was “extraordinarily honored” to address this year’s public health graduates about the opportunities that lie ahead of them.

“This is a wonderful time to be in public health. These new graduates will have multiple opportunities to channel their energy, enthusiasm, altruism and creativity into helping us define what remains of the old role of public health with the addition of new elements that carry public health into the future,” he said.

O’Neal said his speech will focus on defining the new role of public health as the paradigm of U.S. health care undergoes major changes. To cope with these changes, graduates entering the field will need to find new ways to target old and new public health problems.

“The hallmarks of success will be flexibility and creativity while focusing on the goal of a healthy population,” he said.

Phillip Williams, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and vice chair of Georgia’s Board of Public Health, said O’Neal’s reputation as a physician, public health administrator and one of Georgia’s foremost experts in the field of emergency preparedness and response make him a natural choice to address public health graduates.

“Faculty members from the UGA College of Public Health who have worked with Dr. O’Neal consider him one of the most captivating, intelligent, and hardest working people they have ever met in the field of public health. He will no doubt inspire our students to go into the workforce and prosper as public health professionals,” Williams said.

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