Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Rethinking Schools of Public Health: A Strategic Alliance Model

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Rethinking Schools of Public Health: A Strategic Alliance Model

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Canada is in the midst of rejuvenation of public health organizations, mandates and infrastructure. Major planning exercises are underway regarding public health human resources, where academic institutions have a key role to play. To what extent could schools of public health be part of the solution? Many universities across Canada are considering or in the process of implementing MPH programs (some 17 programs planned and/or underway) and possible schools of public health. However, concerns are raised about critical mass, quality and standards. We encourage innovation and debate about ways to enhance collaborative and structural arrangements for education programs. A school of public health model might emerge from this, but so too might other models. Also, novel types of organizational structure need consideration. One example is a "strategic alliance" model that is broad-based, integrative and adaptive - building on the interdisciplinary focus needed for addressing public health concerns in the 21st century. From our perspective, the central question is: what (new) types of organizational structures and, equally important, collaborative networks will enable Canada to strengthen its public health workforce so that it may better address local and global challenges to public health?

RÉSUMÉ

Le Canada est en train de revoir de fond en comble les organismes, les mandats et les infrastructures de son système de santé publique. De grands exercices de planification sont en cours à l'égard des ressources humaines en santé publique, et les établissements d'enseignement ont un rôle clé à y jouer. Dans quelle mesure les écoles de santé publique pourraient-elles contribuer à solutionner les problèmes? Nombre d'universités canadiennes envisagent ou mettent déjà en oeuvre des programmes de maîtrise en hygiène publique (environ 17 sont prévus ou en cours) ou songent à créer des écoles de santé publique. La masse critique, la qualité et les normes suscitent cependant des craintes. Nous encourageons les intéressés à innover et à débattre des moyens possibles d'améliorer les ententes de collaboration et d'agencement des structures des programmes d'enseignement. Un modèle d'école de santé publique pourrait naître de ces discussions, mais d'autres modèles sont également possibles. Par ailleurs, il faut envisager des structures organisationnelles nouveau genre, par exemple un modèle d' « alliance stratégique » à base élargie, fondé sur l'intégration et l'adaptation - en misant sur l'interdisciplinarité nécessaire à la résolution des problèmes de santé publique du XXIe siècle. De notre point de vue, la question fondamentale est la suivante : Quels (nouveaux) types de structures organisationnelles et - tout aussi important - quels types de réseaux de concertation permettront-ils au Canada de renforcer ses effectifs de santé publique pour être mieux à même de relever les défis locaux et mondiaux dans ce domaine?

Tulchinsky and Bickford1 pose a timely question in their CJPH commentary: "Are schools of public health needed to address public health workforce development in Canada for the 21st century?' A consistent message from recent reviews of Canada's public health systems is that integrative, interdisciplinary and comprehensive approaches are required. This includes expanding the output and delivery options of training programs, providing greater availability of continuing professional development, ensuring quality practicum experiences, increasing capacity for applied research, and fostering evidence-based decision making.2-4 To what extent could schools of public health be part of the solution?

This question is being discussed actively within the Canadian academic, government and public health communities, driven by the pressing need for public health workforce development and infrastructure renewal. Academic institutions in Canada are currently experiencing an "outbreak" of MPH programs - some 17 programs are planned and/or underway. …

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