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Who will keep the Public Healthy? Workshop Summary
Tim Stephens of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials presented the discussion and suggestions of Group 6. He reported that this group examined “the who and the how, the current versus the future, agencies and systems, the continuum of education and training,” and the groups that need to be brought together to further dissemination and implementation of the recommendations. Members of Group 6 identified the ecological model as a key contribution of the report. Further, Mr. Stephens reported that improving education for public health is dependent upon developing a vision for the future of the public health system. The current system is in need of change and we need a vision of what the new system should be before changing education and training.
Mr. Stephens stated that, to some extent, Group 6 takes issue with some of the suggestions of the other groups. For example, it is not the sense of the group that partners in the private sector need to be brought to the table to determine what they need. The private sector has been well served by schools of public health. The governmental public health agencies, however, are not reaping the benefits of education in the schools. Additionally, the group believes that understanding the human resources systems, the salary structures and the incentives in governmental public health needs to be undertaken concurrently with understanding what needs to be done educationally. Individual incentives and upward mobility in state and local public health are important and the group suggests:
Loan forgiveness programs for people working in state and local public health agencies
Funding for provision of practical experience and participation in supervision of those activities.
Until we broaden the definition of public health and link it to practice rather than to disciplines, it will be problematic to move forward. Mr. Stephens suggested a need to redefine the profession of public health. Organizational commitments discussed among group members included:
A participant from the University of Texas discussed convening within its community a group, with representation similar to that at the IOM workshop, to discuss the report and identify meaningful issues related to their specific services.
A participant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation described Kellogg’sefforts at increasing diversity of the workforce, indicating that diversity needed to be infused into all areas so that public health practice and scholarship reflect the communities they serve.
A participant from HRS A indicated a desire to hear from the community about what is the profession of public health—is it a field, is it a movement, is it a set of disciplines that are a constellation?
A participant from the Council on Linkages said the Council is committed to reviewing the core public health competencies in 2004 and to exploring how specific competencies can be taught. The Council will also work on public health systems research and will serve as a forum around further discussion of what is the public health profession.