Engaging local public health system partnerships to educate the future public health workforce



The Institute of Medicine concluded that keeping the public healthy required a well-educated public health workforce, thus leading to its recommendation that "all undergraduates should have access to education in public health" [2]. In response to this call, the authors examined the current practice, feasibility, and value in strengthening (or building) a functional collaborative model between academic institutions and practitioners from local health departments to educate tomorrow's public health workforce. Local and regional health departments in New England were surveyed to: (1) establish a baseline of existing working relationships between them and nearby academic institutions; (2) examine the barriers that inhibit the development of collaborations with academic partners; (3) assess how they jointly promote public health workforce development; and (4) analyze which essential public health services their partnership addresses. Despite the lack of financial resources often cited for the absence of academic-local health department collaborations, some New England states reported that their academic institution and local public health department partnerships were valued and productive. The authors discuss how effective academic-community collaborations have the potential to facilitate a broad-based appreciation of public health among students via a wide array of public health curricula and applied experiential learning opportunities in public health settings. The authors propose a model for how to combine basic public health lessons with practical experience and leadership offered by local health departments, in order to foster a real understanding of public health, its importance, practice, and relevance in today's society from a public health workforce perspective.


Health Management and Policy

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Journal of Community Health



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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.