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The Future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century
The service must not only serve the community but also enhance student academic learning.
The service must also directly and intentionally prepare students for active civic participation in a diverse democratic society.
Service-learning programs benefit the community, the student, and academia. Academia depends on this type of learning to teach students about real-world public health. Students are able to translate their academic learning into practice activities. The community, particularly in rural and inner-city areas that may be experiencing a shortage of health professionals, is able to reap the benefit of services provided by students in these learning situations.
On the basis of the findings detailed in the preceding pages, the committee identifies the need for increased funding of public health training and education. Funding is needed to support existing and emerging mechanisms for training and education of public health students, public health workers, and others. The committee recommends that Congress increase funding for HRSA programs that provide financial support for students enrolled in public health degree programs through mechanisms such as training grants, loan repayments, and service obligation grants. Funding should also be provided to strengthen the Public Health Training Center program to effectively meet the educational needs of the existing public health workforce and to facilitate public health worker access to the centers. Support for leadership training of state and local health department directors and local community leaders should continue through funding of the National and Regional Public Health Leadership Institutes and distance-learning materials developed by HRSA and CDC.
The following section discusses the second important contribution of academia, research.
Relevant, high-quality research is essential to health assessment, policy development, and assurance. Such research provides fresh insights and creative solutions to health problems and supplies the evidence base necessary for policy development and assurance activities. Public health practice is grounded in science, both the traditional medical and natural sciences (e.g., biology, microorganisms, vectors, and risks in the physical environment) and, increasingly, the social and behavioral sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology, and psychology) that “affect our understanding of human culture and behaviors influencing health and illness” (Turnock, 2001). It is in academia that most such research is conducted. In addition to basic biomedical research and epidemiological studies that contribute to an understanding