Analyzing the Public Health Work Force

March 6, 2012

Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M.

The field of public health needs a comprehensive classification data system that provides a better assessment of the size and composition of its workforce.  Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M., professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, addresses this issue in “Enumeration and Composition of the Public Health Workforce: Challenges and Strategies” published this month in American Journal of Public Health.

“Such a data system is critical for understanding the capacity, trend projections, and policy development critical to the future workforce,” states Sumaya. “This needs to be addressed now, particularly in the current environment of comprehensive health care reform.”

Previous enumeration and composition studies on the public health workforce have been helpful, but the methodology used needs further improvements in standardization, specificity, data storage, and data availability according to Sumaya.  Resolving this issue should follow a consensus-based course of action that includes public and private stakeholders at the national, state, and local level.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell