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Educational Attainment of the Public Health Workforce and Its Implications for Workforce Development



Educational Attainment of the Public Health Workforce and Its Implications for Workforce Development



Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 21(Suppl. 6): S56-S68



Educational attainment is a critical issue in public health workforce development. However, relatively little is known about the actual attainment of staff in state health agencies (SHAs). Ascertain the levels of educational attainment among SHA employees, as well as the correlates of attainment. Using a stratified sampling approaching, staff from SHAs were surveyed using the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) instrument in late 2014. A nationally representative sample was drawn across 5 geographic (paired adjacent HHS) regions. Descriptive and inferential statistics were analyzed using balanced repeated replication weights to account for complex sampling. A logistic regression was conducted with attainment of a bachelor's degree as the dependent variable and age, region, supervisory status, race/ethnicity, gender, and staff type as independent variables. Web-based survey of SHA central office employees. Educational attainment overall, as well as receipt of a degree with a major in public health. A total of 10,246 permanently-employed SHA central office staff participated in the survey (response rate 46%). Seventy-five percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 74-77) had a bachelor's degree, 38% (95% CI, 37-40) had a master's degree, and 9% (95% CI, 8%-10%) had a doctoral degree. A logistic regression showed Asian staff had the highest odds of having a bachelor's degree (odds ratio [OR] = 2.8; 95% CI, 2.2-3.7) compared with non-Hispanic whites, and Hispanic/Latino staff had lower odds (OR = 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4-0.8). Women had lower odds of having a bachelor's degree than men (OR = 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4-0.6). About 17% of the workforce (95% CI, 16-18) had a degree in public health at any level. Educational attainment among SHA central office staff is high, but relatively few have formal training of any sort in public health. This makes efforts to increase availability of on-the-job training and distance learning all the more critical.

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Accession: 057691508

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26422495

DOI: 10.1097/phh.0000000000000306


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