The Healthy People Curriculum Task Force members believe that if the United States is to achieve Healthy People objectives, all health professionals must incorporate population health principles and activities into their education and professional practices. The Task Force recognizes the need for interprofessional education as a method for teaching and learning clinical prevention and population health and for developing models for students' future clinical practice.
Population health has been defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” More recently, population health has been described as “measuring and optimizing the health of groups and in so doing embraces the full range of determinants of health, including health care delivery.” It is no longer satisfactory for health professionals to treat or address only the medical conditions of individuals seeking care.
Improving the nation’s health requires health professionals to understand and apply prevention and population health principles, practice in interprofessional teams, and link with other programs and services that affect health. Interprofessional team-based care—care delivered by intentionally created work groups who share the responsibility for a group of patients -is facilitated by the development of the needed knowledge, skills and attitudes early in the process of health professions education.
A more effective, sustainable healthcare system includes a workforce that
- understands and integrates population health principles and implications for individual patients, clinical practices, and the community;
- is committed to working in interprofessional teams to promote health, as well as prevent disease and injury;
- contributes to the public health systems in which they practice; and
- is dedicated to improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities across the population being served.
Although the Framework was primarily designed to provide guidelines for education in the clinical health professions represented on the Healthy People Curriculum Task Force, the Framework is applicable to many other health professions disciplines.
The Task Force thus recommends that all health professions education programs:
- Incorporate clinical prevention and population health educational content in their curricula.
- Evaluate students’ knowledge and skills with regard to clinical prevention and population health.
- Systematically determine whether appropriate domains and topic areas in the Curriculum Framework are part of its standardized examinations for licensure and certification as well as program accreditation.
- Use diverse teaching and learning methods to incorporate clinical prevention and population health content into degree and continuing education programs, including service‐learning, problem/case‐based learning, and simulation methods.
- Integrate innovative, interprofessional educational experiences and approaches focused on clinical prevention and population health.