Identifying Needed New Public Health Skills, Along with Barriers to Achieving Them

Preparing the existing public health workforce for changes in the health system

Investigators from Columbia University School of Nursing defined the knowledge and skills most needed by four groups of public health professionals — physicians, administrators, health educators and environmental health specialists — to respond to changes in the US health system.

Key Results

Under the grant, the project staff accomplished the following:

  • Commissioned background papers examining the current health care environment for each of these disciplines and their changing roles within it.
  • Held four focus groups to identify the competencies and skills most needed by each discipline's practicing professionals and a fifth focus group of synthesize the results.

Key Findings

In six reports and an article in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers identified and described nine core curriculum areas that most public health professionals need to perform effectively:

  1. Public health values and acculturation.
  2. Epidemiology/quality assurance/economics.
  3. Informatics (using technology to communicate information).
  4. Communication.
  5. Cultural competency.
  6. Team building/organizational effectiveness.
  7. Strategic thinking and planning/visioning.
  8. Advocacy/politics/policy development.
  9. External coalition building/mobilization.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $272,186 in funding from September 1997 to December 1998 to support the project.

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