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The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century
workforce have focused on identifying basic competencies in public health and developing curricula that teach the information and skills necessary to meet those competencies. A number of different organizations have tackled this task. For example, the Pew Health Professions Commission (O’Neil, 1998) has developed a set of 21 competencies for successful practice that apply to physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals. The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice has developed a set of core competencies for public health professionals that apply to three job categories: frontline staff, senior-level staff, and supervisory management staff (Council on Linkages, 2001).
The ASPH has endorsed the core competencies developed by the Council on Linkages and plans to develop additional and complementary competencies for MPH students. Furthermore, the CDC Office of Workforce Policy and Planning (CDC, 2001b) has developed a table of competency sets (see Appendix E), differentiated into the categories of
Core-basic public health (addresses the essential services of public health);
New topical areas (emergency response, genomics, law, informatics);
Functional areas (leadership, management, supervisory, secretarial);
Discipline-specific areas (professional, technical, entry-level students); and
Other topical areas (e.g., maternal and child health, environmental health, health communication, sexually transmitted diseases).
The preparation of students and workers to engage in effective public health practice requires not only a definition of competencies but also an educational approach that encompasses a necessarily broad range of skills and information. Integrated approaches to education and training are crucial.
Integrated Interdisciplinary Learning
One example of an effort to promote an integrated approach to education is the Medicine/Public Health Initiative, a national consortium created in 1994 under the joint leadership of the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association and involved in efforts to improve the working relationship and bridge the gap between medical and public health practitioners. The initiative has the following seven primary goals:
To engage the community and change existing thinking to focus on improving the health of the community.