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Uncovering Environmental Health: An Initial Assessment of the Profession’s Health Department Workforce and Practice
  • Published Date:

    Jun 2019

  • Source:
    J Environ Health. 81(10):24-33
  • Language:
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Environ Health
  • Description:
    Environmental health (EH) professionals provide critical services and respond to complex and multifaceted public health threats. The role of these professionals is continually re-emphasized by emergencies requiring rapid and effective responses to address environmental issues and ensure protection of the public's health. Given the prominence of the EH profession within the public health framework, assessing the governmental health department workforce, practice, and current and future challenges is crucial to ensure EH professionals are fully equipped and prepared to protect the nation's health. Such an understanding of the EH profession is lacking; therefore, we initiated Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision, and Emerging Roles in Environmental Health (UNCOVER EH). Through a web-based survey, we identified EH professional demographics, characteristics, education, practice areas, and aspects of leadership and satisfaction. We distributed the survey to a convenience sample of EH professionals working in health departments, limiting the generalizability of results to the entire EH workforce. The results were strengthened, however, by purposive sampling strategies to represent varied professional and workforce characteristics in the respondent universe. The UNCOVER EH initiative provides a primary source of data to inform EH workforce development initiatives, improve the practice, and establish uniform benchmarks and professional competencies.
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