Many graduates who work in the public health department have been educated in other sectors. The total workforce is divided into categories such as nurses, physicians, maintenance workers, skilled craft workers, administrative support, paraprofessionals, protective services, professional, technicians, and administrators. All of these tend to fall under different positions such as field worker, environmental engineering technician, veterinarian, dental worker, business professional, etc.
Education in the field of public health has basic public health and doctor degree in public health as advanced training in public health leadership. Many receive academic degrees like MS and Ph.D. in public health with various disciplines like behavioral science, social science, public administration, health administration, pharmacy, dentistry, social work, nutrition, health services, environmental health, biostatistics, biological sciences, and epidemiology.
In the country, there are around 32 accredited schools that teach public health, with around 45 accredited programs in Community Health and Preventive Medicine (CHPM) and in Community Health Education (CHE), and with 700 to 800 master degree students each year.
There are other programs that also offer master’s in public health with various programs in public administration, health administration, etc. There is also a limited number of volunteers and salaried staff in voluntary agencies. Only 22% of public health executives hold graduate degrees.
Schools that teach public health vary in size, organization, and degrees that are offered. A report suggested linking state and local health department as a few schools indicated that the faculty has some relationship with one or both the health departments. Their activities included being on advisory committees, training staff, being a health officer, giving technical assistance and researching on projects. A major blockage is the lack of funds and financial support and being a distance from the health department.
Improving the schools offering public health programs is being considered. Education in all schools currently, is accredited and overreaches the goal of continuing professional education support public health professionals through knowledge and skills in public health. All schools and practice have to develop the appropriate support systems for relevant public health practitioners.
One approach is to organize yearly workshops, conferences. This program can be sponsored by a college or individuals. You need to have recertification to continue the duration. One-third of the schools are accredited. Standard of admission and completion varies across schools.
Advisors in the public health department also need to earn a graduate degree and is available in one or more schools like the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of public health, the Tropical Memory University Rollins School of Public Health and the Tulane University School of Public Health.
Another method is to allow executives to continue to study at masters and doctoral level through distance education. This way the staff members are able to take part in the educational programs. Online courses have also been made available which has produced a phenomenal scope in the growth of online education.
Public health as a profession is not that well defined, so raising awareness is important, and the biggest challenge is lack of funding and support. The major source of revenue – external funding is incongruent and devalues the teaching and educational activities.
The need of the hour of public health is to find new approaches to develop viable research programs.