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Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century
public health competencies. For example, there are few courses addressing cultural competence needs and approaches for working with stakeholders.
There are many challenges also facing continuing education for the current public health workforce. While hundreds of distance learning courses have been developed and are available to all public health professionals, there are few, if any, standards to enable a potential student to distinguish a quality course from one of lesser quality. Even when quality courses are identified, often times the employer does not permit time off to take the course or provide the funds necessary for enrolling in the course. Finally, while distance learning and on-site continuing education exist, the most appropriate technologies and adult learning techniques are not fully utilized by the public health profession.
5. What, in your opinion, are changes that might occur in the next 10 years that will call for new skills/knowledge to be added to public health professional training?
The greatest challenge is to meet the current identified needs that have gone unmet for well over a decade already. For many years, experts in public health practice and academia have identified training needs in areas such as: 1) cultural competence; 2) the basics of public health practice; 3) managing contracts; 4) managing information and technology; and 5) accountability and performance management. Needs in these areas are likely to increase throughout this decade and beyond. To more completely understand the current and future education and training needs of the public health workforce, a comprehensive assessment using the core competencies for public health professionals could be conducted that identifies gaps and priority training needs. Other new skill/knowledge needs are likely to be in the areas of genomics, how to identify and use the growing body of scientific evidence that can guide the practice of public health, and strategies for integrating the aging population into public health programs.