. "4. Future Role of Schools of Public Health in Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century." Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century
to be significant players in the future of public health and health care. The appreciation of the importance of this role and the more systematic incorporation of policy efforts being linked to the schools’ educational mission are critical to charting the future. These same elements must also be enriched in research and service missions of schools of public health.
Academic public health leaders—whether they reside in schools of public health, public health programs, medical schools or elsewhere—are often turned to for information needed in the formulation of policy. They are viewed as credible spokespersons who can make issues understandable to decision makers, the media, and the public. Faculty researchers are contributing greatly to the rapidly growing new knowledge about critical health care challenges, such as the multiple determinants of population health, the effectiveness and quality of health care delivery, and environmental hazards and their control. Yet the very same experts are at worst steered away from and at best not encouraged to move along the continuum from science to policy. Even if induced to do so, most faculty are not prepared to do so effectively, nor are faculty colleagues available to assist them. Part of the disincentive for researchers is that the current academic reward system generally acknowledges only research productivity and not the translation of scientific findings and knowledge to inform evidence-based policy making. This must change if schools are to maintain, let alone enhance, their status as important players in the public health and health care delivery arena.
The committee believes that it is the responsibility of schools of public health to better prepare their graduates to understand, study, and participate in policy related activities. Therefore, the committee recommends that schools of public health:
enhance faculty involvement in policy development and implementation for relevant issues;
provide increased academic recognition and reward for policy-related activities;
play a leadership role in public policy discussions about the future of the U.S. health care system, including its relation to population health;
enhance dissemination of scientific findings and knowledge to broad audiences, including encouraging the translation of these findings into policy recommendations and implementation; and
actively engage with other parts of the academic enterprise that participate in policy activities.
The events of fall 2001 made it evident that public health systems need to have strong collaborative relationships with all parts of the health