Online Program

A descriptive analysis of public health career choices among students, educators, and school counselors: Implications for increasing knowledge of and strengthening pipelines to public health career options

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nancy Freeborne, DrPH, MPH, PA-C, Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Laura Poms, PhD MPH, Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Tyler Litsch, Population Health Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Susan Marmagas, MPH, Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Madison Gates, PhD, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA
Lisa R. Pawloski, PhD, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Educators and school counselors play an important role in generating interest in public health careers among students and may provide the first exposure to the discipline, creating a pipeline into the profession. These efforts are most effective when educators and counselors have a complete understanding of the full range and scope of public health.

To understand if Virginia educators and counselors communicate about public health professions in a way that connects with student populations' interest in the discipline, The Commonwealth Public Health Training Center administered a statewide online survey to educators, counselors, and youth. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine the level to which educators and counselors understand and can relate various public health professions to the interests of student populations. The survey presented common public health careers using the five core discipline principles, and asked educators and counselors if they endorsed them as a career choice for their students. Students were surveyed about preferred public health careers.

Students were more likely to indicate a preference for social/behavioral sciences' professions, while educators and counselors most often recommended careers in health services administration. The results suggest that both groups are less aware of STEM-related public health careers, and educators and counselors may be more cognizant of public health service related occupations. The findings suggest a need to intervene in these populations concerning career awareness related to all five core principles of public health and to address gaps among youth and educators' awareness of public health careers.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe a sample of Virginian primary and secondary school students' knowledge of public health careers. Describe a sample of Virginian primary and secondary school educators' and counselors' choices when endorsing public health careers for their students.

Keyword(s): Public Health Careers, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI at George Mason University on this project for the past three years and have done research concerning public health, youth, and nutrition for the past 14 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.