Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to improve population health outcomes and health equity. The new framework promotes approaches for integrating population health concepts into the professional and interprofessional curricula of health and other professions. This bidirectional approach recognizes that effective interprofessional collaboration also depends on public health students acquiring the insights, tools, and vocabulary of clinical and other professions. Population Health across All Professions Report
As part of its mission to create a broad vision for education in public health for the 21st century, the Framing the Future Task Force, established by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), recognizes the significant value of interprofessional engagement to advance population health. With that aim in mind, the Task Force convened the Population Health across All Professions Expert Panel in February 2014. The Expert Panel’s charge is to offer guidance for integrating population health concepts into the professional and interprofessional curricula of health and other professions such as law, business, architecture, urban planning, education, and engineering, including joint and dual degree programs.
In the context of this report, joint and dual degree programs are those that combine the Master of Public Health (MPH) with professional education in health and other fields. These programs provide students with numerous curricular opportunities to integrate perspectives and approaches from at least two fields, while also providing the student with a strong foundation in each field. The concept is substantive integration, not just parallel coursework, in order to foster innovation and transformative professional practice.
Through this paper, the Population Health across All Professions expert panel means to stimulate interprofessional conversations and suggest possibilities, rather than provide specific implementation guidelines. The panel encourages each discipline and professional program to consider opportunities that will enable their graduates to become effective leaders and partners in interprofessional collaborative practice to improve population health while meeting critical program-specific requirements and goals.
Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to improve population health outcomes and health equity. This goal is advanced by creating a spectrum of opportunities for cross-disciplinary training that integrates population health concepts and concerns into the training that students and trainees receive in other professions. Conversely, public health students and trainees should have opportunities for exposure to other professional perspectives. Opportunities for cross-disciplinary training and collaboration could range from single courses, internships, externships, and projects, to integrated, transdisciplinary graduate-level and professional curricula, both in public health and in other professions, that facilitates collaboration to improve population health outcomes and health equity.
To prepare professionals in health and other fields (e.g., law, business, architecture, urban planning, teaching, and engineering, including dual-degree students) to understand how their professional activities impact population health, and to work together across disciplines, organizations, and sectors on innovative strategies to improve population health.*
*See Appendix A for examples of how other professions have an impact on population health.
The expert panel was charged with describing the elements of population health that all professionals would benefit from learning during their education. The commitment is to bidirectional learning, recognizing that effective interprofessional collaboration also depends on public health students acquiring the insights, tools, and vocabulary of other professions. The expert panel held vigorous discussions with consultants representing many sectors about curricular opportunities to stimulate creative thinking and problem solving across professions.
For this report, the expert panel defined population health as: “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group” (Kindig and Stoddart, 2003). The concept generally includes:
Population health is important to – and affected by – all sectors of society. Whether a population is defined by geography, disease status, health care delivery organization catchment area, or demographic characteristic, myriad thorny problems with multifactorial causes can only be effectively addressed with broad collective action. Examples include patterns of obesity and physical inactivity; unsafe or unhealthy living conditions; exposure to environmental toxins; and the use of illicit drugs and harmful products, such as tobacco. Solutions require sustained efforts from professionals working together in new ways, across disciplines and in a variety of settings, to create practices, programs, policies, and systems that positively impact population health.
While the focus here is on graduate education, some of these statements also apply to undergraduate education
*** Numerous professions describe a similar, multi-faceted approach to education that engages students with the knowledge, skills, values, and experience of a particular profession, although varying terms are used to describe the different aspects of the education. (See, for example, the reports undertaken by the Carnegie Foundation’s The Preparation for the Professions Program, which studied five professions: law, engineering, Christian and Jewish clergy, medicine, and nursing, accessed at: http://carnegiehighered.org/professional-education-books-and-articles/
****See Appendix C for more information on joint and dual degree programs
A population health curriculum aimed at professionals both within and outside health should provide an understanding of the following fundamental concepts and frameworks:
Preparing professionals across many fields to play a role in advancing population health requires not only content changes to the core curriculum, but also revisions that foster an appreciation for the value of interprofessional engagement, and the skill set to do it. Curricula should therefore feature:
Examples of how other professions have an impact on population health. We invite expert panel members to provide examples.
Sources: Leigh Carroll, Bridget Kelly, Paul Jarris, Derek Yach, and William Rosenzweig, Health Affairs Blog. “An Evolving Approach to Collaborations among Health and Other Sectors”; PHLR, Public Health Law Research, at http://publichealthlawresearch.org/ (Accessed 12/13/14); Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Law Program, at http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/about.html (Accessed 12/13/14).
(This appendix will include succinct quotes from several key consultants.)
We invite expert panel members, now and in the future, to provide case studies. This appendix will be updated.
Joint and dual degree programs can provide interdisciplinary education through class modules that incorporate analysis of, as well as case studies and data presentations focused on health or other disciplines. Guest lectures by public health faculty, for example, can highlight the ways in which topics intersect across fields — an epidemiology lecture focused on a transportation injury study would be relevant to a class in transportation planning; an economic development lecture on the spatial mismatch between jobs and residential locations could be presented in a health behavior class; and a presentation on case-finding and contract tracing would provide a real-world anchor in a class on public health law and communicable disease.
We invite expert panel members, consultants, and colleagues in other professions to offer suggestions and additions.
Architecture, Urban Planning, and Population Health:
Business and Population Health:
Health Professions and Population Health:
The following grid and questions provide a guide for educators who wish to collaborate, exchange ideas, and integrate bidirectional learning about population health across health and other professional curriculum.
|Content Domains of Population Health||Degree of Relevance to Your Profession||Extent of Current Coverage in Your Curriculum||Plan for Future Coverage in Your Curriculum|
|Population Health Concepts and Measurements|
|Determinants of Health|
|Evidence-Based Strategies in Population Health|
|A System that Cares for Health|