Is public health education and training adequately responding (or not) to emerging priorities?
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Massey University New Zealand
World Federation of Public Health Associations George Washington University United States
World Federation of Public Health Associations
World Federation of Public Health Associations La Trobe University United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A713
Work by the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ Professional Education and Training (WFPHAPET) working group has identified several areas of the current public health environment in which practitioners need to have a basic understanding to prepare them for the future of the field but are not necessarily included in public health competency sets or curriculums. The emerging and important public health issues identified were OneHealth, Systems Thinking, Public Health Ethics, and Disaster and Emergency Health.

A panel was organized and moderated by John Middleton (Association of Schools of Public Health in European Region), with Laura Khan (OneHealth), Carol Stewart (Disaster and Emergency Health), Helen de Pinto (Systems Thinking), Michael Moore (Political Engagement), and Jim Thomas (Public Health Ethics) invited to discuss challenges in integrating these specialties into public health education, training, and practice.

Common threads across the discussion included: * The current pace of change seen in these areas of public health * ‘Nimble’ ways of identifying emerging problems * Imaginative ways of teaching * The need for sophisticated communication systems * Understanding current political imperatives and political realities * Training ‘public health practitioners who understand political thinking’.

To enable better capacity in public health workforce means updating course materials and finding ways to integrate new materials without losing core content. Opportunities exist for a range of imaginative and nimble teaching strategies to adapt current and future training materials, including short courses; case-based approaches; and the integration of emergent public health topics. As teachers we must be mindful of the need to teach enough of everything versus a lot of nothing, losing the ability to teach specialist topics in any depth. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brought us a unique experience to reflect on how we teach, and learn new teaching techniques, and not spend time teaching material which is easily available online.

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