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Introduction

In a world where public health threats range from AIDS and bioterrorism to an epidemic of obesity, the need for an effective public health system is as urgent as it has ever been. The extent to which we are able to address the complex challenges of the 21st century and make additional improvements in the health of the public depends, in large part, upon the quality and preparedness of our public health workforce. This workforce, in turn, is dependent upon the relevance and quality of public health education and training. In March, 2001 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the Institute of Medicine to examine the education of public health professionals and develop recommendations for how public health education, training, and research could be strengthened to meet the needs of future public health professionals to improve population-level health.

In response, the IOM convened the Committee on Educating Public Health professionals for the 21st Century. (Please see Appendix A for a list of committee members.) During the course of the one-year study the committee held five meetings (four included public information-gathering sessions); reviewed and analyzed key literature; and abstracted, analyzed, and synthesized data from catalogs, web sites, and survey responses of accredited schools of public health. The committee report, released November 4, 2002 puts forth a framework and recommendations for education that are directed toward preparing public health professionals to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Because numerous institutions and agencies play important roles in public health education, training, research, and leadership development, the report addresses its recommendations to schools of public health, degree-granting programs in public health, medical schools, schools of nursing, other professional schools (e.g., law), and local, state, and federal public health agencies. The committee report presents conclusions and recommendations for each of these institutional settings that are directed toward improving the future of public health professional education in the United States.

Following the release of the report, a great deal of discussion was generated about what needed to be done to follow through on the report’s recommendations. Since numerous stakeholders were involved there was a call for collaborative discussion. Therefore, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to hold a workshop of stakeholders to foster joint discussion among the academic and practice communities.

The workshop was held May 22, 2003. Over 100 representatives of the public health practice and academic communities attended. The morning session included a presentation from the sponsor describing why they chose to fund the study on educating public health professionals. This was followed by a presentation summarizing the report



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Who will keep the Public Healthy? Workshop Summary 1 Introduction In a world where public health threats range from AIDS and bioterrorism to an epidemic of obesity, the need for an effective public health system is as urgent as it has ever been. The extent to which we are able to address the complex challenges of the 21st century and make additional improvements in the health of the public depends, in large part, upon the quality and preparedness of our public health workforce. This workforce, in turn, is dependent upon the relevance and quality of public health education and training. In March, 2001 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the Institute of Medicine to examine the education of public health professionals and develop recommendations for how public health education, training, and research could be strengthened to meet the needs of future public health professionals to improve population-level health. In response, the IOM convened the Committee on Educating Public Health professionals for the 21st Century. (Please see Appendix A for a list of committee members.) During the course of the one-year study the committee held five meetings (four included public information-gathering sessions); reviewed and analyzed key literature; and abstracted, analyzed, and synthesized data from catalogs, web sites, and survey responses of accredited schools of public health. The committee report, released November 4, 2002 puts forth a framework and recommendations for education that are directed toward preparing public health professionals to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Because numerous institutions and agencies play important roles in public health education, training, research, and leadership development, the report addresses its recommendations to schools of public health, degree-granting programs in public health, medical schools, schools of nursing, other professional schools (e.g., law), and local, state, and federal public health agencies. The committee report presents conclusions and recommendations for each of these institutional settings that are directed toward improving the future of public health professional education in the United States. Following the release of the report, a great deal of discussion was generated about what needed to be done to follow through on the report’s recommendations. Since numerous stakeholders were involved there was a call for collaborative discussion. Therefore, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to hold a workshop of stakeholders to foster joint discussion among the academic and practice communities. The workshop was held May 22, 2003. Over 100 representatives of the public health practice and academic communities attended. The morning session included a presentation from the sponsor describing why they chose to fund the study on educating public health professionals. This was followed by a presentation summarizing the report

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Who will keep the Public Healthy? Workshop Summary recommendations and another presentation outlining some questions and issues relevant to implementing the recommendations. Participants then divided into small groups to discuss the report, addressing such questions as, “are the recommendations feasible,” what will it take to implement the recommendations,” and “what should be the next steps in implementation?” The following is a summary of that workshop.