Public Health Pipeline: The Future Generation of Public Health Professionals

An RWJF National Program

Field of Work: Improving science education for children in grades six through nine.

Problem Synopsis: Studies have warned of a severe shortage of skilled public health professionals in the United States. To effectively address this issue, the nation must improve science education programs for all students. As the number of students participating in effective K–12 programs increases, so does the pipeline of scientists and engineers—including public health professionals. The middle school years are an especially critical period.

Synopsis of the Work: Public Health Pipeline: The Future Generation of Public Health Leaders (October 1997 to January 2006) consisted of two interrelated components: creating education/public health partnerships and developing a science curriculum.

Key Results

  • Working with two organizations (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development [ASCD] and the National Science Resources Center [NSRC]), the program:

    • Initiated public health education projects in 10 middle and high schools across the country, involving approximately 2,190 students.
      • ASCD published and distributed a book—Education and Public Health: Natural Partners in Learning for Life—describing the 10 projects and the lessons learned from the schools' experiences.
      • The NSRC developed a basic science curriculum for middle school students, conducting 100 teacher workshops, and working with leadership teams representing 750 school districts to reform their K–8 science education programs. These districts represent 20 percent of the K–8 student population in the United States.
      • NSRC engaged over 6,000 leaders and worked with 750 school districts representing 20 percent of the K–8 student population in the United States. Of these 750 districts, approximately 56 percent represent underserved populations.

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