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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB: Public Health Undergraduates in the Workforce: A Trickle, Soon a Wave?

The recent growth in public health undergraduate degree programs has been remarkable. Undergraduate degree programs span a wide variety of institutional settings, from those with both accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs, to those with only an undergraduate program. The authors examined the degree to which such growth has affected the public health workforce.

This prompted the exploration of public health undergraduate degrees among employees who responded to the 2014 and 2017 Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), as described in the analytic essay by Sellers et al. (p. 674) in this issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The essay focuses on five major themes: workforce diversity, the aging workforce, workers’ salaries and recruiting new staff, the growth of undergraduate public health education, and workers’ awareness and perceptions of national trends in the field.

The authors, including lead author, Dr. Paul Erwin, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, surmised that there were several potential consequences of the growth in undergraduate public health degree programs, with a mixture of what the authors deemed to be positive and negative. These perspectives arose from their collective experiences in both academia and public health practice.

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