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The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century
with epidemiology, biostatistics, public health policy, the elements of prevention, and other essentials of public health, whereas students of public health require familiarization with the workings of the health care delivery system, the pharmacological and therapeutic treatment of disease, and techniques of dealing with individual patients (Hagar, 1999).
Nursing education is another area for integrated interdisciplinary learning, such as linkages with education in public health. Although schools of nursing require course work in community and public health nursing at the bachelor’s level, there is a great deal of variation in the content of these programs. In 2001, there were 85 schools of nursing that offered master’s degrees in community health and/or public health nursing (Berlin, 2002). Model curricula incorporating public health content into bachelor’s nursing curricula are lacking; an insufficient number of nursing faculty are prepared in public health; and access to public health agencies for population-based clinical experience is often a problem, as is access to continuing education in population-based public health and public health nursing. For additional information about preparing nurses to enter the public health workforce, refer to Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? (IOM, 2003).
Unfortunately, efforts to integrate teaching across schools and departments face several institutional barriers. First, most schools and colleges are departmentalized, with the resources provided for teaching distributed among the departments. Departmental priorities lie with ensuring that courses for majors and service courses are taught within the department’s discipline. Faculty who teach departmental, discipline-based courses are provided with both monetary support for teaching such courses and recognition by their departmental colleagues for contributing to the department’s teaching load.
At present, either integrated interdisciplinary courses must receive funding from sources outside the various departments involved, or each department supporting the disciplines involved in integrated interdisciplinary courses must agree to contribute faculty teaching time to the teaching efforts. Even when such agreements among departments can be reached, faculty are still reluctant to participate because the development and teaching of integrated interdisciplinary courses usually require more time than that required to teach a course in one’s own discipline. This additional time is usually not recognized in either commensurate pay or teaching credit.
A second disincentive for faculty participation in integrated interdisciplinary educational approaches relates to promotion and salary review. Faculty teaching integrated interdisciplinary courses may be penalized during promotion and salary merit review because their departmental colleagues know little of their interdisciplinary teaching activities or do not value such activities as highly as they value contributions to the department’s