This article advocates for the strengthening of the public health workforce. It provides background and contextual information on the workforce itself, references currently available data, and suggests a path forward based on the current state of affairs.
Public Health Workforce Development and Diversity
The public health workforce plays an essential role in securing the vital conditions for health and well-being for all to thrive. A skilled, resourced, and robust public health workforce is needed to meet the demands of public health today and prepare for the needs of tomorrow. A diverse public health workforce is better equipped to address the needs of the most impacted and marginalized, and implement population health strategies. COVID-19 has shed light on challenges facing the public health workforce, while also exacerbating them. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to skill up the workforce; support workers’ needs; center equity in workforce development efforts; and plan for the future.
Supporting Public Health and Frontline Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has put immense pressure on frontline and public health workers, exacerbating myriad mental health concerns, including stress, depression, and burnout. As with COVID-19 itself, impacts have disproportionately affected certain populations more likely to hold frontline positions, including women, LatinX people, and people of color. These challenges, compounded with broader issues affecting the workforce, undermine the capacities of frontline and public health workers to provide essential services. Key strategies for supporting frontline and public health workers include building a culture of caring across leadership and organizations, improving employment practices and working conditions, and fostering social support among workers.