Today’s public health challenges are complex and crosscutting, such as antimicrobial resistance, food insecurity, and outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases. An important step toward synergistically addressing these issues would be to apply consistent One Health core competencies in education, in order to optimally prepare future One Health leaders. However, it is unclear if and how core competencies are currently being employed in One Health education.
A recent study, published on June 4 in the National Academy of Medicine Perspectives, assessed the evolution of existing One Health core competencies and the ways they are applied in academic programs, and identified gaps that could be filled through four recommendations. The authors conducted a literature search for core competencies in One Health education, as well as searches for One Health academic degree programs in the United States. Post-secondary degree programs were included if they were taught with an interdisciplinary approach linking human, animal, and environmental health disciplines. They reviewed all available information online and contacted administrators by e-mail for each program.
Key findings include the following:
- Since 2012, core competency recommendations have not been updated or provided as a public resource.
- A competency domain related to health sciences was missing from previously recommended competencies.
- There are at least 45 One Health degree programs in the United States, of which 27 (60 percent) were master’s level, 10 (22 percent) were bachelor’s level, and 8 (18 percent) were doctoral programs. The majority (83 percent) of academic programs were established after 2001. Only 14 (31 percent) had core competencies publicly available. Among key areas that were evaluated, plant biology, antimicrobial resistance, and law were underrepresented in the programs, whereas epidemiology and environmental health/ecology were well represented.
Based on the findings, the report provides four main recommendations:
- Clearly state core competencies, such as for health knowledge and an understanding of global and local issues for humans, plants, animals, and the environment.
- Educate future professionals in disciplines that are currently well-represented, as well as in disciplines that are not.
- Continue to emphasize hands-on, practical, and applied training for students, such as internships, capstone projects, and nonacademic work experiences.
- Emphasize communication since less than half of current programs focus on the communication required to collaborate with team members, the public, policymakers, and in different cultural settings.