. "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
system, and all health professionals need to have a solid grasp of public health principles and practices. Community-based physicians and hospital-based nurses were rapidly involved in surveillance and public education (and in some cases administration of prophylaxis). Community members turned to their neighborhood health centers and providers for assistance in interpreting media reports and defining levels of risk. In many cases, those from whom help was sought were themselves seeking to understand who was in charge, how the public’s health was being protected, and what information was reliable. One way to strengthen the capacity to respond is to increase the proportion of health and related professionals who have had a solid introduction to public health as a part of their basic professional education.
Some other schools have existing requirements for public health, community health, or preventive medicine content but may not see these as central to their mission and thus may not give them sufficient attention. In other cases, the public health content may not be required, but would enhance the ability of the graduate to be an active part of a community health system. It is not the responsibility of a school of public health to solve the curricular problems of other schools or to monitor the education provided there. In fact, assumption of such roles would not be met with pleasure from the other schools. The expertise of a school of public health, however, in public health sciences, the ecological approach to health, or in specific topics such as risk communication or community partnerships could be useful to faculty in other schools.
At some level, the relationship of a school of public health with other health-related schools and departments could be seen as parallel to the relationship between a local health department and other health-related resources in the community. Following that model, public health experts can make themselves available partners in defining educational goals for public health units or courses, in developing classroom or other teaching resources, and in looking for opportunities to allow students from multiple disciplines to work with public health students in models consistent with a 21st century view of improving the public’s health.
Therefore, the committee recommends that schools of public health actively seek opportunities for collaboration in education, research, and faculty development with other academic schools and departments, to increase the number of graduates in health and related disciplines who have had an introduction to public health content and interdisciplinary practice, and to foster research across disciplines.
ACCESS TO LIFE-LONG LEARNING
Earlier in this chapter we asserted that schools of public health should focus on preparing senior-level public health professionals, leaders, re-