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Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century
ASPH Answers for the IOM Study on Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century
1. Why would your organization or the members of your organization consider hiring someone with a public health education?
(a) The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) has a mission to: strengthen, coordinate, and promote the education, research, and service activities of the 31 accredited schools of public health. In 2000, the then 28 member schools launched almost 6,000 masters and doctoral graduates into the workforce. Current association policy calls for graduates from an ASPH member school to fill key staff management positions. This policy ensures that the ASPH staff leadership are familiar with schools of public health and are well-versed in the core areas of public health; and,
(b) Graduate schools of public health are exceptionally interdisciplinary institutions that hire and promote faculty and staff who represent fields ranging from anthropology to zoology. Core doctoral training in public health, however, is required for most faculty positions. Individuals who have been academically prepared in other fields, nonetheless, often have a masters-level degree in public health.
2. What is the minimum knowledge you or your organization’s members expect from someone with a public health education?
ASPH and its members consider the master of public health (M.P.H.) degree the basic professional public health degree. The M.P.H. is the most commonly awarded degree at schools of public health (accounting for 63 percent of degrees awarded in 1999–2000). Other masters-level degrees that are conferred in schools of public health (e.g., M.S., M.H.A./M.H.S.A., and M.S.P.H.) are valued as comparable professional degrees to the M.P.H.
While graduates of schools of public health practice in every imaginable industry and setting in a field that becomes increasingly more complex and inter- and multi-disciplinary every year, there remain five core areas of knowledge that schools of public health must make available to masters and doctoral students: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and social and behavioral sciences. Individual schools may make other coursework mandatory, at their discretion. For example, the Biological Basis for Public