Annual symposium focuses on public health law and implications for practice

May 25, 2016

The Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine hosted its Third Annual Central Pennsylvania Public Health Day Symposium on May 9 at Central Penn College in Summerdale.

In her opening remarks for the program, the Geneia Institute’s Patricia Ingerick challenged the group to use a critical lens to assess assumptions within the field about what is possible in public health. Ingerick specifically named issues like the opioid use epidemic and human trafficking in central Pennsylvania, but this impetus set the tone for other topics discussed throughout the day as well.

The theme of this year’s event was Public Health Law and Implications for Practice. The keynote speaker for the day was Lindsay Wiley, an associate professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law. Her address, “Law as a Social Determinant of Health,” discussed using law as a tool for protecting and promoting population health; removing legal barriers to good public health practice; and preserving a favorable legal environment for public health intervention.

Two of the breakout session speakers — novelist Sherry Knowlton and Rhonda Hendrickson from the Harrisburg YWCA — were invited to discuss human trafficking in central Pennsylvania on WITF’s Smart Talk program. Knowlton, the author of "Dead of Summer," and Hendrickson, a health care consultant, led a breakout session on the same topic. 

The audience represented a mix of local and regional attendees. Some organizations in attendance included state and regional municipal health departments; academic departments from Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Gannon University, West Virginia University College of Law, and Elizabethtown College; nonprofit organizations such as Church World Service and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; and health systems representatives from Lancaster General Health, Geisinger, WellSpan Neurosciences and Penn State Health.

Public Health Day provides students, faculty, community stakeholders and health care system representatives with a professional networking experience and highlights best practices in research and public health. The event is intended to showcase public health and the role of students and practicing professionals in the future of the field. 

This year’s Penn State Public Health Day Symposium was held in collaboration among Penn State Public Health Sciences, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, the Mid Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center and The Geneia Institute. 

For more information about upcoming events and training opportunities hosted by Penn State Public Health Program, click here or contact

Last Updated May 25, 2016