Committee Urges Instruction in Informatics, Genomics, Ethics for Public Health Professionals

Educating public health professionals for the 21st century

From June 2001 through June 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) developed a framework for how, over the next five to 10 years, education, training and research in schools of public health could be strengthened to meet the needs of future public health professionals as they enter careers to improve public health.

The IOM's Committee on Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century produced a 2003 report, Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century.

The work was done concurrently and in liaison with the IOM committee on the Future of Public Health in the 21st Century, and this liaison helped shape and influence this report and its dissemination.

Key Recommendations

The IOM reported the following overall recommendations in Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?:

  • Public health education should be based upon an ecological model of health. An ecological model assumes that health and well-being are affected by interaction among the multiple factors that determine health (e.g., social, economic, health, living and working conditions, behavior, age, sex and biological factors).

  • Public health education should include eight critical new areas: informatics, genomics, communication, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, policy and law, global health, and ethics.

  • A voluntary certification program in the ecological approach to public health should be developed as a way to encourage new master of public health (M.P.H.) graduates to increase their competence.