The Essential Role of the Prevention Epidemiologist

June 27, 2022

The role of a prevention epidemiologist (Epi) is challenging and demanding - and one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences an epidemiologist will have.


While traditionally, an epidemiologist's training focuses on investigating and monitoring disease trends, a prevention Epi's position requires much more. These Epis are often tasked with locating data sources to use in evidence-based decision-making, establishing and facilitating a state or tribal epidemiological workgroup (SEW/TEW), developing strategic plans around the creation of state surveillance systems for substance use and misuse prevention, and teaching communities how to use data.


The Epi will encounter more than data and its analysis; there is a strong focus on communicating the data and helping grantees understand how to use it to change their communities. To achieve this unique goal, the Epi needs exceptional leadership and presentation skills.


The South Southwest PTTC’s new Epi toolkit Getting the Lay of the Land: The Prevention Epidemiologist provides the framework for Epis, program managers, and prevention professionals to support states, tribes, and communities in epidemiological tasks unique to the prevention field.


The toolkit is organized by different aspects of the prevention Epi’s role. Major aspects include:

  1. Understanding the Organizational Structure and the Epi’s Role Within the Prevention System
  2. The Prevention Epidemiologist and the Epi Workgroup
  3. Identifying and Communicating Data
  4. Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) and Epi Workgroup Tasks
  5. Tools and Resources to Get You Going


To access the toolkit, click here. Please watch our Epi Toolkit Lunch-n-Learn video (insert link when available) to get a walk-through of the toolkit with one of the authors. You may also use this link to request toolkit related technical assistance.


nicole schoenbornNicole Schoenborn, M.A., ICPS, brings over 20 years of award-winning public health experience to the South Southwest Prevention Technology and Transfer Center. She currently oversees all evaluation reporting and analysis and manages the evaluation database for the PTTC. She plays a vital role in the planning and delivery of South Southwest PTTC events, providing high-impact training and technical assistance services to the prevention workforce, emerging prevention professionals, organizations, and community prevention stakeholders.

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