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Their Roles in Educating Public Health Professionals The previous two chapters have reviewed the role of schools of public health and of other programs and schools in educating public health professionals.
While the committee is aware that public health professionals work in a variety of settings, there is a special relationship with the governmental public health agencies at the local, state, and federal level. These agencies have a major responsibility for educating and training the current public health workforce and future public health workers who have not received training elsewhere.
The following sections discuss activities and roles of local, state, and federal public health agencies. These discussions are followed by a series of recommendations targeted at what official public health agencies can do toward better educating public health professionals.
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There are nearly 3, local health departments in the United States, varying dramatically in geographic size, size and nature of population, urban and rural mix, economic circumstances, governmental structure within which they work, and governing organization to which they are accountable.
The majority of local health departments provide a wide variety of services to very diverse communi- Page Share Cite Suggested Citation: Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century.
The National Academies Press. Although local public health services are often discussed within the framework of the 10 Essential Public Health Services, the services actually provided vary widely from state to state, from urban to rural areas, and are especially adapted to address local priorities and concerns.
Despite considerable variation, however, more than two-thirds of local health departments provide the following core services: The past decade has been a period of significant challenges and transitions in local public health.
For many LHDs, resources for some traditional services have been shrinking at the same time that challenges and demands have been increasing. Rapidly growing immigrant communities are creating a need for new services or for providing traditional services in a different way.
In the aftermath of bioterrorism, health departments have greatly increased disease surveillance activities and are now at the center of many of the federal, state, and local emergency planning activities.
With these challenges and changing circumstances, there is increasing urgency for an assessment of how new public health professionals are educated and how the current workforce can be trained for new skills. The education and training of the public health workers poses a difficult challenge to local health departments, one for which they will require the engagement and support of many partners, most notably the schools that educate health and public health professionals.
They face an on-going need to train new and current workforces in how to respond to emerging areas, changing diseases, new priorities, and new technologies. Because LHDs are experiencing significant changes in the types of services they provide and the roles they are expected to fulfill, education and training are needed to prepare new and current local public health staff to meet these changing expectations.
As discussed earlier, the vast majority of current public health workers do not have formal public health training. Many have training in a primary health profession, such as nursing or environmental health, and Page Share Cite Suggested Citation: One of the major training needs for LHDs is the capacity to support their professional staff in maintaining their professional credentials or licensure through on-going continuing education.
Much of the training for local public health staff is obtained through the initiative of individual employees, seeking continuing education in areas of special interest to them or for the continuing medical education or continuing education units that are required to maintain their professional credentials.
LHDs provide a significant amount of direct staff training, primarily for focused technical skills specific to their services and programs.
Most LHDs have very limited financial and staff resources for providing or obtaining training or for supporting education for their staff, and they rarely have staff who are professionally prepared to be trainers or educators.
Linkages with schools of public health could enhance the capacity of LHDs to provide broader and higher quality training.
LHDs can play an important role in training and education by assessing the skills and training needs of their workforce. However, there is little systematic information about the extent to which LHDs actually use various sources, which courses and topics are most frequently sought, or the effectiveness of the alternative sources of training.Building a Strong Economy: The Roles of Education, Transportation, and Tax Policy By Phineas Baxandall, Colin Jones, and Kurt Wise, January 15, “His general, somewhat more skeptical approach toward federal agencies, which a lot of people have talked about, may have an echo in this area by being a little more protective of states’ role in these schemes,” Young said in an interview.
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