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A History of Public Health Workforce Enumeration

Merrill, Jacqueline; Btoush, Rula; Gupta, Meera; Gebbie, Kristine

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: November-December 2003 - Volume 9 - Issue 6 - p 459–470
Articles

During the 20th century, the United States' public health workforce has been of sufficient interest to policy makers that regular efforts have been made to enumerate it. Limited enumeration is found as early as 1908; the last direct federal survey occurred in 1964. After 1964, workforce size was estimated. The ratio of public health workers to population reached an estimated 220/100,000 in 1980. Data collected in 2000 yielded a ratio of 158/100,000—a 10 percent decrease. In the absence of a system to reliably collect public health workforce data such information is problematic to interpret or use for infrastructure planning and development.

Jacqueline Merrill, MPH, RN, C, is a Project Manager, Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Rula Btoush, RN, MSN, is a Research Assistant at the Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Meera Gupta, MPH, is a Data Manager at the Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Kristine Gebbie, DrPH, RN, is the Elizabeth Standish Gill Associate Professor of Nursing and Director of the Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York

Corresponding author: Jacqueline Merrill, MPH, RN, C, Project Manager, Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, 630 W. 168th Street, Mailbox #6, New York, NY 10032.

The authors thank and acknowledge the work of Robert Gerzoff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The extensive annotated bibliography of public health workforce historical documents that he has assembled provided the impetus for this study.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.