160688 Health and aging education in accredited Public Health programs

Monday, November 5, 2007: 11:00 AM

L. Cricel Molina, MPH , UCLA Center for Health Policy Research & School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Steven P. Wallace, PhD , School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
The imminent arrival of the baby boom and the doubling in number of persons age 65+ over the next 30 years creates a clear need for public health (PH) professionals with expertise in aging. Data on schools of public health (SPHs) document the rapid growth of students working towards PH degrees. There were 37 SPHs in 2005, up substantially from 26 in 1994. Further, 64 additional departments of community health/preventive medicine offered accredited degrees in 2005, up dramatically from 18 in 1993.

Has the growth in institutions offering PH graduate education also fueled an increase in PH professionals with expertise in aging? Data from nearly all SPHs and over half of accredited programs are analyzed and compared to studies on PH and aging curriculum from a decade ago. Respondents at SPHs report that 62% have aging content in core courses and 80% have one or more graduate courses related to aging. However, only 3% of SPH students enrolled in these courses. MPH-granting departments are much less likely to report any aging coursework. Findings also show that gerontology is being incorporated into PH education through certificates/concentrations in aging, offered at more than half of SPHs. Student funding is sparse, with only 10% of SPHs reporting fellowships for students studying aging. Respondents report that overall, funding is the #1 barrier to adequate PH and aging curriculum. Observing the trend over the past 10 years, our findings show that greater attention is needed in providing gerontology skills to the PH workforce.

Learning Objectives:
To discuss the characteristics of a diverse Public Health workforce that would be able to provide health promotion and prevention efforts for the growing older adult population. With the findings on trends of past and current Public Health and Aging curriculum in accredited degree programs, identify strategies for increasing the number of Public Health professionals skilled in aging issues. With data on strengths and barriers to adequate Public Health and aging curriculum in accredited programs, describe approaches for enhancing quality curriculum.

Keywords: Aging, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.