National Academies Press: OpenBook
« Previous: Front Matter
Suggested Citation:"Abstract." Institute of Medicine. 2003. Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10542.
×

Abstract

In a world where 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. An effective public health system requires well-educated public health professionals. Public health professionals receive education and training in a wide range of disciplines, come from a variety of professions, work in many types of settings, and are engaged in numerous kinds of activities; however, all public health professionals share a focus on population-level health. The committee developed the following definition, used throughout the report. A public health professional is a person educated in public health or a related discipline who is employed to improve health through a population focus. Many institutional settings play important roles in public health professional education including 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. It is important that the education provided by these programs and institutions is based upon an ecological model of health. An ecological model assumes that health and well being are affected by interaction among the multiple determinants of health.

Further, it is important that public health professional education include not only the long recognized five core components of public health (i.e., epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health services administration, and social and behavioral science), but that it also encompass eight critical new areas: informatics, genomics, communication, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, policy and

Suggested Citation:"Abstract." Institute of Medicine. 2003. Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10542.
×

law, global health, and ethics. Understanding and being able to apply information and computer science technology to public health practice and learning (i.e., public health informatics) are necessary competencies for public health professionals in this information age in which we are vitally dependent upon data. Genomics is helping us understand the role of genetic factors in leading causes of morbidity in the United States, information that public health professionals must be familiar with to improve health. Public health professionals must be proficient in communication to interact effectively with multiple audiences. They must also be able to understand and incorporate the needs and perspectives of culturally diverse communities in public health interventions and research, and to understand and be able to influence the policies, laws, and regulations that affect health. New approaches to research that involve practitioners, researchers, and the community in joint efforts to improve health are becoming necessary as we recognize the importance of multiple determinants of health, for example, social relationships, living conditions, neighborhoods, and communities. Understanding global health issues is increasingly important as public health professionals are called upon to address problems that transcend national boundaries. Finally, public health professionals must be able to identify and address the numerous ethical issues that arise in public health practice and research.

We need high quality public health professionals contributing through practice, teaching, and research to improve health in our communities. This report provides a framework and recommendations for strengthening public health education, research, and practice skills that can be used by the institutions and organizations responsible for educating public health professionals and supporting public health education. Public health professionals’ education and preparedness should be of concern to everyone, for it is well-educated public health professionals who will be able to effectively shape the programs and policies needed to improve population health during the coming century. If we want high quality public health professionals, then we must be willing to provide the support necessary to educate those professionals.

Suggested Citation:"Abstract." Institute of Medicine. 2003. Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10542.
×
Page1
Suggested Citation:"Abstract." Institute of Medicine. 2003. Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10542.
×
Page2
Next: Summary »
Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century Get This Book
×
Buy Hardback | $54.95 Buy Ebook | $43.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Bioterrorism, drug--resistant disease, transmission of disease by global travel . . . there’s no shortage of challenges facing America’s public health officials. Men and women preparing to enter the field require state-of-the-art training to meet these increasing threats to the public health. But are the programs they rely on provide the high caliber professional training they require?

Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? provides an overview of the past, present, and future of public health education, assessing its readiness to provide the training and education needed to prepare men and women to face 21st century challenges. Advocating an ecological approach to public health, the Institute of Medicine examines the role of public health schools and degree--granting programs, medical schools, nursing schools, and government agencies, as well as other institutions that foster public health education and leadership. Specific recommendations address the content of public health education, qualifications for faculty, availability of supervised practice, opportunities for cross--disciplinary research and education, cooperation with government agencies, and government funding for education.

Eight areas of critical importance to public health education in the 21st century are examined in depth: informatics, genomics, communication, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, global health, policy and law, and public health ethics. The book also includes a discussion of the policy implications of its ecological framework.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!