Context: Recent surveys indicate that approximately 40% of graduates from schools of public health are employed within the private sector or have an employer charged with regulating the private sector. These data suggest that schools of public health should provide curricular opportunities for their students—the future public health workforce—to learn about the relationship between the private sector and the public's health.
Objective: To identify opportunities for graduate students in schools of public health to select course work that educates them about the relationship between the private sector and public health.
Design: We systematically identified and analyzed data gathered from publicly available course titles and descriptions on the Web sites of accredited schools of public health.
Setting: Data were collected in the United States.
Participants: The sample consisted of accredited schools of public health.
Main Outcome Measures: Descriptions of the number and types of courses that schools of public health offer about the private sector and identification of how course descriptions frame the private sector relative to public health.
Results: We identified 104 unique courses with content about the private sector's relationship to public health. More than 75% of accredited schools of public health offered at least 1 such course. Nearly 25% of identified courses focused exclusively on the health insurance industry. Qualitative analysis of the data revealed 5 frames used to describe the private sector, including its role as a stakeholder in the policy process.
Conclusions: Schools of public health face a curricular gap, with relatively few course offerings that teach students about the relationship between the private sector and the public's health. By developing new courses or revising existing ones, schools of public health can expose the future public health workforce to the varied ways public health professionals interact with the private sector, and potentially influence students' career paths.
This study identifies opportunities for graduate students in schools of public health to select course work that educates them about the relationship between the private sector and public health. It demonstrates a significant curricular gap and a corresponding opportunity for schools of public health to better prepare students for careers within the public and private sectors.
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
Correspondence: Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Room 513, Baltimore, MD 21205 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.