Griz Health

Griz Health Program

PUBH 491 Griz Health I Course Description: This upper-division course is an experiential and service-learning course that focuses on ideation, innovation, and the social determinants of health. This course is open to all disciplines and will be offered at the undergraduate/graduate level. With community partners, students will design solutions for real-world barriers in healthcare/public health. Students will learn about the impacts of the social determinants of health, how to work as a team, how to make a strategic plan, and how to present a professional proposal to community partners. In addition to the class meetings, students will also be expected to volunteer their time with community partners and or on-campus. The course must be taken in sequence with PUBH 491 Griz Health II: Program Implementation during the spring semester.

Course Meeting Times: Mondays and Wednesdays 2:00-3:20 PM

The Story Behind Griz Health Innovation

Griz Health Student Volunteers started as a program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the outset, the program brought in over 40 students volunteers who were willing to donate their time to contact tracing, informational outreach, social media campaigns, UM Genomics Core sample processing, campus-wide asymptomatic testing, and vaccine clinics.  

At the end of the semester, students gathered data to contribute to a national study on mask adherence using SOMAD as well as a survey on perceptions of mask adherence across Montana.  

The Pilot 

These students inspired a pilot program that turned into the course entitled: Griz Health Innovation I & II. During the Spring of 2021, in collaboration with Blackstone Launch PadUM Health & Medicine and Montana Pediatrics, students were presented with barriers in health care delivery and worked in teams to pitch solutions to a panel of judges. Students were assisted by mentors from the University of Montana, the Rural Institute, Montana Pediatrics and Tulane University. Finally, this program was supported by Take Control MT, the School of Community and Public Health, and Western Montana AHEC. 

“I am really impressed by this program. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I just love how it brings people together to brainstorm solutions to real problems. This type of thing needs to happen more!!” ~ Student participant 

After presenting their pitches to a panel of judges we received extensive feedback on the program including that it could be longer, that it could be a class, and that it was desperately needed. Participants, judges, and mentors alike not only felt that the experience was worthwhile, but that a key component was getting the chance to problem solve with interdisciplinary students from all corners of campus.