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How Do We Ensure an Effective Public Health Workforce into the Future?

Date: 11/11/2015 11:27 AM

Related Categories: Workforce Development

Topic: Conferences and Events, Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Tag: Academic Health Department, Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals, Council on Linkages, Email Newsletter Content, PHF E-News, Workforce Development

Author: Kathleen Amos

Kathleen Amos, MLIS, Assistant Director, Academic/Practice Linkages, Public Health Foundation 
What is critical to building an even stronger public health workforce for the future? According to national experts speaking at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting earlier this month, one key element is better connections between academia and public health practice.
The importance of public health academia and practice working together was emphasized throughout the November 2nd APHA Annual Meeting session, Navigating the Seas of Public Health Workforce Development: What Every Practitioner and Academic Needs to Know, which focused on national workforce development efforts guiding the future of public health. Moderated by C. William Keck, MD, MPH, Chair of the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice (Council on Linkages), and featuring as speakers Donna J. Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH, Chair, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health’s (ASPPH’s) Framing the Future Task Force; Laura Rasar King, MPH, MCHES, Executive Director, Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH); and Edward L. Hunter, MA, President and Chief Executive Officer, de Beaumont Foundation, this session explored new initiatives within public health workforce development and their connections to a long-standing workforce development initiative of the Council on Linkages, the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (Core Competencies).
Beginning with support for the Universal Competencies in the early 1990s and continuing with the development and revision of the Core Competencies in 2001, 2010, and 2014, the Council on Linkages has focused attention on the need for foundational skills that cut across the public health workforce, regardless of the specific disciplines in which professionals work and regardless of whether that work takes place in academic or practice settings. Today, as ASPPH’s Framing the Future initiative is developing a vision for public health education in the 21st century, CEPH is revising the accreditation criteria for graduate-level education in public health, and the de Beaumont Foundation’s National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development is identifying cross-cutting workforce training priorities, the need for collaboration within the public health field continues to take center stage.
Strong connections between academia and practice are essential to ensuring the current and future public health workforce has the skills to be most effective in improving the health of the nation. With a transformation of public health education to emphasize foundational competencies needed in the workforce; a recognition that schools and programs of public health have a responsibility for providing training and support for public health workers, both those with and without formal education in public health; and an increasing awareness that public health education continues long after graduation and that the practice community also has a responsibility for building competencies and skills within the workforce, the field is well positioned to move forward in a more coordinated way.
Public health is fundamentally about people. Graduates of schools and programs of public health are the workforce of the future, but relatively few governmental public health workers have degrees in public health. Academia and practice must work together to ensure the workforce as a whole has the skills needed to be successful and is prepared for ongoing change as the field of public health continues to evolve.

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