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Public Health Workforce Trends Since 1980: Myth or Reality?

Turnock, Bernard J. MD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: March-April 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 2 - p 105–108
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000346005.21157.a6
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Increasingly, the national spotlight has been on the needs of the public health workforce fueled, in part, by assertions that the number of public health workers has declined since 1980. A closer examination suggests that there is little evidence to support the claim of a shrinking workforce and that the number of public health workers has actually been increasing at a rate greater than that of the general population. These findings suggest that the evidence base for public health workforce preparedness efforts must be strengthened.

This brief report reviews data from government studies on the public health workforce in the years 1980 and 2000, as well as suggests that the evidence base for public health workforce preparedness efforts must be strengthened.

Bernard J. Turnock, MD, MPH, is Clinical Professor and Director, Division of Community Health Sciences, and Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Illinois Public Health Preparedness Center at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Corresponding Author: Bernard J. Turnock, MD, MPH, Division of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.