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The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century
The Bureau of Health Professions has begun to create a nationwide network of Public Health Training Centers (HRSA, 2000b). The purpose of the program is to improve the nation’s public health system by strengthening the technical, scientific, managerial, and leadership competence of the current and future public health workforce. Each of the Public Health Training Centers for each respective state or region will work to
Assess the educational needs of and training materials and facilities available to local and state public health agencies;
Use distance-learning technology and other new educational approaches to provide both basic and specialized public health education;
Improve public health providers’ ability to interpret and make informed decisions based on relevant data and information;
Establish on-site educational programs in underserved areas;
Develop field-based educational opportunities for students from traditional on-campus graduate public health programs;
Develop new curricula for public health practitioners on emerging public health issues such as bioterrorism, behavioral and mental health, domestic and societal violence, and environmental health issues; and
Train lay workers from local boards of health and community health offices.
The centers are designed to offer training and continuing education programs to about 100,000 public health students and professionals each year. To date, 14 centers have been funded. These centers involve 35 academic institutions and more than 42 states. Funding levels range from about $250,000 to $500,000 per year per center, although the recommended levels were $1 million. Although this is a needed program, funds are insufficient to compensate for the reduction in training funds experienced over the past two decades. Adequate funding, especially in states with small and medium populations, would create the opportunity to release staff to prepare and provide training programs and to increase the number of sessions provided. Additionally, adequate funding would allow the training center to hire distance-learning specialists to aid in the preparation of courses.
CDC has also been a major supporter of education for public health professionals. The CDC Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) was a federally sponsored initiative directed primarily toward CDC field officers, state health department personnel, and selected others with at least 3 to 5 years of experience in public health practice. The programs were designed for midcareer professionals in public health practice who desired to further their professional standing. The program provided the means by which Public Health Advisors working in state and local health departments across the country could earn a graduate certificate in public health from one of four