Wake Up, America! The Future Public Health Workforce is at Risk

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence

A new Center for Excellence poll finds that most Americans are unaware that state and local public health departments are facing a serious shortage of skilled professionals that could put the health and lives of citizens at risk.

Most Americans don’t see it as a problem. As many as 45 percent of public health workers are expected to retire within the next five years. But the poll of 1,200 adults, which was conducted for the Center by by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, finds that only one in three Americans see this as a major problem for state governments, and only one in four see it as a problem for local government.

“We count on public health professionals to prevent the spread of disease, protect us from bioterrorist threats, make sure our food is safe to eat, and our air is safe to breathe,” said Elizabeth Kellar, executive director of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

“Those closest to the public health infrastructure know that the safety net is fragile. The public sector workforce is older than the private sector’s, and state and local governments are facing their greatest turnover ever. Public health is an area that already faces critical shortages, so there is no time to lose.”

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