The Academic Health Department (AHD) involves an arrangement between a governmental health agency and an academic institution, which provides mutual benefits in teaching, service, research, and practice. From its initial development in the mid-1980s as the public health equivalent of the relationship between a teaching hospital and a medical school, the AHD concept has evolved to include multiple levels of governmental public health agencies (local, state, and federal) as well as multiple academic institutions (public health, medicine, and primary care medical residencies). Throughout the decade of the 2000s, multiple influences have impacted both the quality and quantity of AHDs, leading to an expansion of AHDs through the Council on Linkages’ AHD Learning Community. The value of the AHD—as described from prior studies as well as the AHD case examples in this current special issue—is evident in its impact on the quality of educational experiences and workforce development, agency and academic accreditation, practice-based research, and the potential to influence health reform.
This study focuses on academic-practice linkages to provide a broad array of detailed examples of Academic Health Departments to move the discussion from what the Academic Health Department should be to what it actually is.
Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee (Dr Erwin); Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, Ohio (Dr Keck).
Correspondence: Paul Campbell Erwin, MD, DrPH, Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, 1914 Andy Holt Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors thank Dr Lloyd Novick and Dr Ross Brownson for their reviews of earlier drafts of this article.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.