Missouri Affiliate Survey Shows Why Health Grads Leave State

By Haskins, Julia | The Nation's Health, February-March 2018 | Go to article overview

Missouri Affiliate Survey Shows Why Health Grads Leave State


Haskins, Julia, The Nation's Health


Missouri's governmental public health workforce is facing a shortage of trained public health professionals, many of whom are leaving the state after receiving their degrees from Missouri universities. The departure of public health professionals is particularly concerning for Missouri's 115 independent local health agencies. Combined with an aging workforce, the dearth of professionals educated in state puts the future of public health in Missouri at risk.

The Missouri Public Health Association was aware of anecdotal evidence that public health graduates who were educated in the state were going elsewhere for job opportunities, but the reason why was unclear.

To determine why so many public health graduates were leaving Missouri, MPHA administered a survey to graduates of university-based public health programs in the state from Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri Columbia and Missouri State University. Some Missouri residents who received their Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Kansas were surveyed too.

Survey respondents were asked about demographic data, their experiences in public health and barriers to working in governmental public health. Insufficient starting salary was the primary reason why respondents said they were not working in governmental public health, at 75 percent, followed by a lack of promotional opportunities, at 57 percent, and work environment, at 42 percent.

Lack of benefits and pension, pursuing a career in a different field of interest and challenges with the online job system for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services were also among the reasons why people said they did not stay work in governmental public health in Missouri. Respondents largely disagreed that a desire to return to their hometown and immigration requirements posed barriers to working in Missouri's governmental public health field.

"If Missouri's public health field cannot remain competitive in job recruitment, obtaining and maintaining a highly trained public health workforce will continue to be a challenge," a report on the survey said. …

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