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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB: The Future of the Environmental Health Profession

Environmental health (EH) is a fundamental component of a comprehensive public health system, so the role of EH professionals is critical to the health and safety of the communities they serve. New and evolving challenges are stressing the EH profession.

The author, Dr. Lisa McCormick, is with the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Gerding et al., in “Identifying Needs for Advancing the Profession and Workforce in Environmental Health” presents feedback from focus groups, which examined the problems and needs affecting EH professionals and identified 29 problem statements. Dr. McCormick discusses some perspectives that illuminate how these problem areas across the themes of effective leadership, workforce development, equipment and technology, information and data systems, support for the profession, and partnerships and collaboration are affecting the delivery of EH services at the state and local levels.

There is a need to use available data and evidence to promote and demonstrate the worthwhile nature of the EH profession. EH professionals strongly push for uniformity in data collection so that their efforts can be used to effectively and efficiently inform intervention practices. As the EH workforce ages, leadership training opportunities must be made consistently available and accessible to bolster and support a new generation of EH professionals. Professional qualifications must be standardized to better create a clear definition of the profession and its responsibilities.

Developing innovative solutions across the identified problem statements must be a priority to ensure the future efficacy of the EH profession.

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