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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) are pleased to announce the issuance of Public Health Workforce Enumeration, 2012, a follow up to a report issued in 2012 which reviews public health workforce data sources entitled, Strategies for Enumerating the U.S. Governmental Public Health Workforce. The Public Health Enumeration 2012 report was prepared by the Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies at the University of Michigan (UM CEPHS). It describes methods, results, and conclusions of a study to characterize size and composition of the public health workforce using existing data sources, most of which are publicly available.
Regularly assessing the size and composition of the U.S. public health workforce has been a challenge for public health officials and public health systems and services researchers for decades. Enumeration of the public health workforce poses special challenges because of the breadth of the field, its multidisciplinary nature, the diverse settings for employment, and the lack of any standardized system for regularly and systematically collecting data on this segment of the health workforce. Periodic characterization of the public health workforce is necessary for ensuring a workforce large enough and skilled enough to deliver the essential public health services to the population. This periodic characterization also provides the data required for monitoring the impact of investment and advocating for additional resources; assessing gaps in workforce development; developing recruitment, retention, and competency compliance and credentialing efforts; permitting improved alignment of academic resources with workforce needs; and allowing for an improved understanding between workforce infrastructure and specific health outcomes.
Study Methods and Conclusions
Public health workforce enumeration estimates were calculated by using six data sources that were statistically adjusted to address concerns regarding worker overcounting and undercounting. Lowest, midrange, and highest workforce enumeration estimate ranges were developed. The availability of multiple data sources for developing a public health workforce enumeration potentially improves its accuracy but also adds methodologic complexity to the estimates. Despite attempts to correct for integration among data sets and differences in occupational case definitions, these enumeration estimates still undercount the state workforce and overcount the federal workforce, although these estimates are believed to represent an improvement over the simple use of raw data from the data sources. Available public health workforce data sources, although imperfect, can be used to generate a range of enumeration estimates, depending on how occupational classifications are defined and the extent to which the data source allows public health workers to be disaggregated from larger estimates of health professions workers. Improvement in the accuracy of data sources and development of a standardized methodology for continuously monitoring the size and composition of the public health workforce can help ensure that a competent and capable cadre of workers is available to promote and protect our nation’s health.
For additional information about the Enumeration of the Public Health Workforce Project, contact:
Fatima Coronado, MD, MPH
Deputy Associate Director for Science
Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development (proposed)
Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (proposed)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Edward Salsberg, MPA
Director, National Center for Health Workforce Analysis
Bureau of Health Professions
Health Resources and Services Administration