Public health system partnerships: Role for local boards of health in preparing the future public health workforce.



The Institute of Medicine’s report, Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century, recommended that public health education be accessible to undergraduate students. Promoting access to public health education will ideally contribute to a well-educated public health workforce, thus assuring the fulfillment of the public health mission. In response to this call to action, the authors examined the current practice, feasibility, and value in developing a functional partnership between academic institutions and local boards of health in preparing future public health professionals. Local boards of health 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 their collaborations with academic partners; and (3) assess how they jointly advance public health workforce development. Despite the main barriers of a lack of time, staff, and funding that are often cited for the absence of collaborations between institutions, one New England state, in particular, reported that their academic institution and local board of health partnerships were important and effective. The authors discuss how academic-practice collaborations hold the potential to combine basic public health principles with leadership and governance experience offered by local boards of health. Such partnerships are underutilized and have the potential to integrate core public health concepts while facilitating applied experiential learning opportunities in a professional public health setting, thus contributing to the development of the future public health workforce.


Health Management and Policy

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Journal of Community Health



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