A young woman working in the community

Why Public Health is the Ideal Career Path for Gen Z

Public Health is potentially the most undervalued, untapped reservoir of career potential for young students who are ambitious, eager to make an impact at a systemic level, and want to pursue a career path that offers both fulfillment and job security.

Public health requires every skill set, meaning everyone from marketers to software developers, scientists to statisticians can find a role that touches lives and makes real impacts. There is no shortage of jobs or job security, and there are openings in every frontier of this field. The field offers a chance to make a real difference, something many young job seekers cite a desire to do in their jobs, and the wealth of opportunities in public health create the perfect environment to do that. In addition, the public health field offers a level of job security that is increasingly tough to find in other industries. 

So what’s the disconnect? Why aren’t new graduates flocking to the career opportunities in public health? The answer is that public health has an image problem, and it’s due time to fix that.

In this article, we’ll cover: 

  • What does it mean to work in public health?
  • What jobs are available in public health?
  • The growing demand for young talent in public health
  • Why public health is an ideal career path for Gen Z
  • Why are young people overlooking careers in public health?
  • Bridging the gap in exposure with K-12 Health Pathways programs

What does it mean to work in Public Health?

To address this, we first should identify what we mean by “public health.” 

What does Public Health encompass?

Public health seeks to improve overall population health, empower communities to become responsible for their own health, and to protect people from disease and other preventable public problems like water and food contamination. Public Health is made up of essential services, both at the state, local, and city levels and also the work that health systems, centers, and community organizations do. 

What is the difference between Healthcare and Public Health?

Healthcare is typically delivered one to one by providers like doctors, nurses, and techs in a clinical setting. Public health is focused on working further upstream to address systemic issues and root causes of health problems affecting whole communities of people. The ultimate goal of public health isn’t only to treat the problems, it is to prevent the problems before they happen.

This means that those working in public health are considering a variety of disease states, certainly, but there are others looking at everything from environmental issues to average commute times to accessibility of green space in particular communities. Public health seeks to address the overall wellness of a community and takes into account much more than medical well being. 

What jobs are available in Public Health?

The word “health” typically lends itself to mental images of doctors, nurses, and hospitals, but that isn’t all that public health is. Many of those working within this field have job titles that can also be found in other industries. In the realm of community wellbeing, these familiar roles work hand in hand with clinical healthcare to better the holistic health of a large group of people, whether it’s a neighborhood, city, community or state. 

Common Career Paths in Public Health

Health administration and policy:

These roles oversee the day-to-day administrative operations of hospitals and other healthcare facilities and generate ideas and solutions to solve challenges. Their responsibilities might include planning and supervising all medical services—including monitoring budgets and updating health records. Candidates for these roles often have a degree in healthcare administration and may go on to pursue management degrees. 

Some jobs in this field include: 

  • Health Policy Analyst
  • Health Policy Research Assistant
  • Lobbyist
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Wellness Coordinator

Maternal child health:

Those working in maternal and child health look at public health through the lens of providing accessible and comprehensive prenatal care to pregnant women and resources and guidance once babies are born. These workers help address inequities in access and take into account cultural, social, and economic factors within communities. 

Jobs in this field might include: 

  • Lactation Consultant
  • Inbound Call Center Representative
  • Patient Care Assistant - Labor & Delivery
  • Maternal Health Research Scientist
  • Prenatal Education Coach

Healthcare program management/coordination:

In these roles, employees perform administrative and supervisory duties from creation and implementation of health-related programs to program monitoring and evaluation. This is a broad-spectrum role, and can focus in lots of different areas. Most candidates have an undergraduate degree.

Jobs in this field could include: 

  • Assisted Living Administrator
  • Professor or Researcher at a College or University
  • Consulting Health Care Administrator
  • Healthcare Quality Improvement Manager
  • Health Information Manager

Infectious Disease:

This field commits to investigating and protecting people from health threats including foodborne illness and waterborne illnesses, infections that spread in hospitals or might be resistant to medication, illnesses that spread through travel, illnesses spread by animals and insects, and new diseases that might be of concern, like Covid.  

Job titles commonly include: 

  • Health Scientists
  • Operations Research Specialist
  • Clinical Specialist
  • Research Associate


This is the study of why and how often certain diseases occur in different groups of people. Epidemiological information is used to plan and evaluate strategies to prevent illness and as a guide to the management of patients in whom disease has already developed.

Jobs titles might include: 

  • Infection Control Epidemiologist
  • Pharmaceutical Epidemiologist
  • Field Epidemiologist
  • Molecular Epidemiologist

Health education & community health:

People in these roles keep groups of people (employees, residents, students) up to date about common health issues and concerns, providing information and resources. They may also oversee teams of community health workers, guiding community members through healthcare systems and services, and ensuring individuals can access the help they need. These roles train and guide health workers, and handle day-to-day issues and concerns that arise from work in the field, acting as both human resource contact and mentor. These individuals often have degrees in healthcare administration, but others are promoted from the ranks of community health workers. 

Jobs in this field might include: 

  • Wellness Program Coordinator
  • Public Health Educator
  • Health Services Manager
  • Fitness Specialist / Trainer
  • Community Health Worker

Public health nutrition:

These specialized nutritionists are tasked with identifying unique nutritional issues within specific communities. They seek to find the source of prevalent issues and find ways to address them. The objective of this role is to contribute positively to the overall nutritional health of a population of people, driving education and awareness around good eating habits and how food impacts health. 

These jobs include: 

  • Registered Dietician
  • Nutrition Professional
  • Nutrition Services Worker
  • Nutritional Health Coach
  • Nutrition Education Coordinator

Global health:

Those working in this field have a similar focus to many pathways in public health, but they take a wider view of emerging challenges, and take into account the social, cultural, economic and environmental factors contributing to health inequities around the world. 

Job titles include: 

  • Biostatistician
  • Global Health Consultant
  • Global Health Educator
  • Global Policy Analyst

Environmental health:

This is the branch of public health that looks specifically at relationships between people and their environment. Those working in this field strive to address chemical and other environmental exposures in air, water, soil and food to protect people and provide communities with healthier environments.

Roles in this field include: 

  • Air Pollution Analyst
  • Environmental Health Inspector
  • Health and Safety Engineer
  • Environmental Toxicologist
  • Professor

In-Demand Skills in Public Health

While some people come to the public health field having intentionally secured a particular degree, there are a broad range of applicable skill sets that most people gain in school or in other careers, making public health a welcoming second-career for many.

  • Data analysis: all kinds of data are generated within the field of public health, and analysts may be called upon to collect and analyze data to assist decisions around the health of populations. Data analysis is used to determine if programs are working or if there are unmet needs among particular groups of people. 
  • Technology: those adept in software and hardware applications are needed to help update the field of public health as technology advances in general. Technology experts are helping with everything from providing online access to appointment booking to providing access for telehealth care to automating prescriptions. 
  • Strategy: as with so many other fields, action in public health follows careful planning, something those with experience analyzing existing information, budgets, and goals can help with. 
  • Marketing and public relations: now more than ever, messaging is critical. Whether it’s helping the public understand why and how to vaccinate against a disease, or raising awareness about a local effort in the community, keen marketers and public relations pros who understand how to work with media will always be in demand. 
  • Activism and lobbying: because so much work in public health happens thanks to federal and state funding, there is always a need for those able to work within communities and with representatives to ensure that legislation follows real needs. 
  • Change management and consulting: anyone with experience inside entities that have undergone strategic reorganizations will find a role in public health, where so many departments and sectors are working to adapt to changing technology, workforce sentiment, and community needs. 

The Growing Demand for Young Talent in Public Health 

The Mounting Shortage of Public Health Workers

In our most recent blog article, we talked about the critical shortages around the country in the public health sector and explored some of the contributors to these shortages. 

Consider these statements: 

New Talent is a Critical Need in Public Health

The current workforce is aging, and over one-fourth (27.78%) of employees of state and local public health departments in 2017 were older than 55 years, meaning this population is in the midst of a steady retirement wave, while there are few new entrants backing them up. Many of these workers have been in public health their whole careers, so when they leave, they take decades of institutional knowledge and experience with them. 

While some knowledge is departing with those retiring, an influx of younger, more technology-adept workers is an idea welcomed by the field. Modernized approaches to outreach and communication are sorely needed, and those willing to address existing problems with new methodologies and technologies are eagerly welcomed. 

Public Health is an Ideal Career Path for Generation Z

Gen Zers look at the world differently than previous generations, with strong values related to racial justice and sustainability. Large scale mobilizations like the Global Climate March thrive on the activism of these young people who frequently call for reform on personal, public, and global scales to prevent future catastrophe. “Many Gen Zers describe themselves as environmentally conscious, and the majority of Gen Z expects to see sustainability commitments from companies and organizations,” according to a study by McKinsey & Company

This is the definition of the public health domain. No other field offers such a broad swath of programs and initiatives that directly impact the well-being of so many, while also offering a vehicle to employ and develop skills in technology, data analysis, communication, and beyond. 

Given that one quarter of the workforce by 2025 will be comprised of those identified as Gen Z, it seems like the perfect time for public health to make an appeal. This field needs diverse, young talent that reflects the cultural makeup of their communities. It needs people who really want to make a difference and aren’t hesitant to engage directly with the people around them in an effort to improve the lives and communities where they work and live, and people who are technology savvy, looking to innovate to ensure the field can keep up with – and stay in front of – its evolving constituency. And there are plenty of reasons to do so.

Reason #1: Affecting Systemic Change

Multiple recent workforce surveys illustrate that Gen Z cares about the world around them and wants to work in fields that have direct impact for good. One study notes:  “Gen Z actively advocates for causes they believe in. They participate in protests, grassroots movements, and online activism to raise awareness and drive meaningful impact. Gen Z's passion for sustainability has made them a driving force in shaping conversations and pushing for a more eco-conscious society. 73% of Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable products.”

This desire to make a lasting and beneficial impact isn’t isolated to Gen Z, but is a broader trend, growing as information about the impact of humans on the world around them becomes more accessible. A recent study at Deloitte found, “More than half of Gen Zs (55 percent) and millennials (54 percent) say they research a company’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job from them. Seventeen percent of Gen Z respondents and 16 percent of millennials say that they have changed their jobs due to climate concerns, with 25 percent of Gen Zs and 23 percent of millennials saying they plan to do so in the future.”

This desire to effect systemic change and lessen negative impacts can be hard to reconcile with the goals and projections of many corporate entities, especially publicly traded ones, making a career in public health a fitting alternative. This is why public health is such an ideal fit for this generation.

Reason #2: Making Grassroots, Community-Based Impact

While many members of Gen Z are vocal on social media and in their peer groups, it isn’t always easy to find ways to ignite real change within their communities and beyond. The public health career field offers hands-on opportunities to make critical differences to entire communities of people. For those looking to create government-driven change, there are paths within public health to do just that. 

Reason #3: Applying Technology and Communication Skills

For the first generation of digital natives, public health is an ideal outlet to put to use the communication and tech skills that are often second-nature. The opportunity is ripe for a traditionally slow-moving field to receive an influx of young and energetic workers who can help mobilize and rebuild the industry from the inside out, doing more good for more people on more fronts than ever before. 

Reason #4: Finding Career Fulfillment

Where so many occupations create a sense of detachment, a feeling of being a cog in a wheel, public health presents the opportunity to mobilize and empower entire communities of people. For those interested in influencing policy and funding to create visible impact, there is no better field to pursue. Additionally, there are numerous positions within the field where employees work inside a community, with citizens, to develop strategies and craft inputs that are representative and meaningful, and where the results of their work are visible in the short and long term. 

Reason #5: Wide Range of Career Possibilities and Job Security

There are more opportunities across the spectrum of skillsets within public health right now than in any other field. Where recent graduates used to flock to startups in the tech industry, we expect to see a growing number entering the wide range of jobs available in public health. There are so many opportunities for lateral and vertical growth with the industry, and the promise of job security is a boon - something almost impossible to find in other arenas today. 

Why are young people overlooking careers in public health?

A Messaging & Exposure Problem

One of the key reasons young people don’t pursue roles in public health is that they simply don’t know they exist. Kids are exposed to healthcare at early ages, and no child doesn’t know that “doctor” or “nurse” are jobs they might pursue. Very few understand the wide realm of opportunity that exists in public health, even as they enter high school and college. This is partially due to the fact that, as Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari noted recently, “If we’re doing our jobs right, nobody knows we’re doing our jobs because we’re preventing disease, we’re preventing illness, we’re preventing emergencies related to the food supply. We do our job quietly in the background and we don’t tell our story well.”

Building K-12 Pipelines to Increase Exposure

Because there is a wide breadth of opportunity in public health, it’s difficult to create a soundbyte to help expose students to the field. As a result, repeated and deep exposure to the range of career choices must be intentionally included alongside other career exposure programing. 

Local organizations are collaborating with public health departments to learn more about the needs within our communities in public health and taking those to the schools to build out pathways programs that will help fill the pipeline. In the long run, this is the only reliable way to build a funnel of interested and motivated people to enter the public health field in the future. 

By offering a combination of site visits, speakers, work-based learning opportunities, internships, and exposure events like conferences, organizations like Reach Out, Health Career Connection, and many others are actively changing the messaging surrounding the public health field, but it is a slow process, and one that requires many contributors to work. 

Conclusion: An Overlooked Field with Exceptional Promise

It’s critically important that young people are exposed to the possibilities available to them, both to encourage them to pursue meaningful careers and to help offset a major public health crisis in the Inland Empire and beyond. Students should be exposed to the variety of jobs available in this challenging and rewarding field, especially because the broad range of opportunities embrace those with college degrees and without. 

In order to expose young people to the world of public health careers, we need to continue to build our K-12 pathways, starting education about the opportunities available in public health as early as possible. Additionally, these pipelines need to connect to real-world opportunities beyond high school, through career pathway programs at junior colleges and universities that create internships and mentorships that give students a chance to experience the roles they’re considering. 


Learn more about Reach Out’s youth pathways initiatives here, and if you are a funder, legislator, educator, or administrator interested in helping drive the message about the wealth of opportunity in public health forward, please get in touch! 



A woman presenting to a group

Why the Inland Empire Needs More Public Health Workers

There is an ongoing crisis within the public health system in the Inland Empire (and beyond). 

Part of the problem is that most of us are unaware of the role that public health plays when it is working well. As Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari noted recently, “If we’re doing our jobs right, nobody knows we’re doing our jobs because we’re preventing disease, we’re preventing illness, we’re preventing emergencies related to the food supply. We do our job quietly in the background and we don’t tell our story well.”

It’s time to tell the story of public health, and it’s time to work as a community to build a pipeline of public health workers for the future. The consequences of inaction will ensure that public health becomes a focus of awareness for every single citizen, because we will all be affected to some degree. 

In this article, we’ll be shedding light upon: 

  • The startling decline in public health workers
  • Why public health workers are leaving
  • How the shortage in public health workers will affect us
  • Solving the problem with a coordinated regional effort
  • The bottom line: fixing the exposure and messaging problem

The Startling Decline in Public Health Worker Numbers

How large is California's public health workforce gap?

Put simply, the gap is huge. A study published in March 2023 noted: “Nearly half of all state and local public health employees left their jobs between 2017 and 2021. An additional 80,000 workers are needed to provide a minimum set of public health services to citizens.”

While most of us have heard about shortages in clinical staff, particularly nursing, on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, what you might not realize is that non-clinical workers make up a significant part of the public health workforce. 

How many public health workers will we need by 2030?

Projecting the future needs of the public health workforce is made all the more difficult by the reality that data is incredibly fragmented. Presently, due to the lack of a central data source, it is nearly impossible to keep tabs on the whole of the public health workforce or plan for upcoming gaps, since there is “no single source of data that encompasses all workers in the public health workforce.” That said, it’s easy to gain a clearer picture of the whole by considering anecdotal information that can be found easily in any public health department within the Inland Empire. In Riverside County, as an example, a posting for an epidemiologist was open for three months without a single qualified applicant found.

This leaves public health across the country in a purely reactive state. Needless to say, we are unprepared to face another pandemic, and the academic consensus is that we are not wondering if there will be another global pandemic, but instead are contemplating when. 

The Root Causes: Why are public health workers leaving?

Retirement of Lifelong Employees

One of the key contributors to the upcoming departure of many of our public health employees currently is age. According to Dr. Jeff Leung, Riverside County Public Health Officer: “Many people who join public health stay in public health for their whole career.” That means that when they leave after 20 or even 40 years, they take a wealth of knowledge along with them, creating a vacancy that is very difficult to fill. 

While many people immediately think of doctors and nurses when the term “public health” is mentioned, the shortages extend beyond clinical settings. 

Positions facing severe shortages include: 

  • Health and medical managers
  • Hospital and healthcare administrators
  • Biostatisticians
  • Management consultants specializing in healthcare
  • Epidemiologists
  • Occupational health and safety specialists
  • Social and community services managers
  • Health education specialists

Covid-19 Burnout

The pandemic had a profound effect on the state of public health in this country. When it began, those in the field were put under extreme pressure, partially fueled by the fear gripping citizens around the globe. That pressure, coupled with the longevity of the pandemic, led to a significant portion of the workforce citing burnout and departing. 

Beyond the pandemic’s direct effects, Covid-19 also swung a spotlight onto a field that typically operates, as Saruwatari said, behind the scenes. The public had opinions on the way the pandemic was being handled on a variety of levels, thanks in part to the politicization of the issue, and public health departments took a lot of criticism. This lack of public support for what is a fundamental and under appreciated function of society created a hesitancy for those who might have been considering careers in the public health field. 

Lack of An Established Career Pipeline 

Because public health has often operated under the radar of most peoples’ awareness, the career options within the field are not the kinds of things that children grow up planning to pursue. Without exposure to the wide range of career opportunities available, those rising through our schools choose alternative paths instead. 

A Slow-Moving Government Engine

The nature of the public health field–that it is a government job–is part of the issue in several ways. For one thing, government careers don’t offer the reliable benefits and pensions that once led so many to opt for the security of a government job over higher salaries in the private sector. With pensions disappearing, government positions are being forced to compete on salary, where private organizations often have the upper hand. 

For new graduates facing student loan debt, these numbers matter. According to a recent future workforce study, “the top three reasons that upcoming and recent grads would turn down a job include low pay, poor work-life balance, and unattractive benefits.”

Government departments are further burdened by a notoriously laborious hiring process that often takes months. It is unrealistic to expect that graduates can put off making rent, car, and loan payments for months at a time in order to compete for a job that most likely pays less than the private sector can. 

How will the shortage in public health workers affect us? 

Good question. It will affect every single citizen living in the United States if this problem isn’t solved in the near future, even more so in the Inland Empire, given that so many qualified candidates move to bigger cities in California to work, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego, exacerbating the shortages faced in our region. The current shortages make it difficult for departments to handle routine community care, and impossible to mount a surge response like that which would be needed for another pandemic. 

Public health addresses many of the things that make up our communities, things we take for granted. According to the 2022 book, Public Health: “Common public health issues and concerns include environmental quality (clean air, water, and food), sanitation, climate change, health equity, health reform, access to healthcare, tobacco use and exposure, mental health, injury and violence, physical activity, nutrition, obesity, and vaccination.”

The current crisis should be top of mind for all of us, but particularly: 

  • Policymakers who deal with the overall health of their communities and create legislation in the event of public health emergencies
  • Hospitals, which are on the front lines of any public health outbreak or crisis and are dealing with shortages of their own
  • Schools who can look at this as an excellent opportunity to create candidates ripe for positions in an eager market

Solving the Problem with a Coordinated, Regional Effort

It is clear that the diverse Inland Empire needs more highly skilled, cross-culturally competent public health workers. We need to attract them and make it worthwhile for them to stay. 

The good news is that there are ways to accomplish this and many efforts underway to put these ideas into action, but it is a community effort that will take proactivity, collaboration, and deep coordination across organizations like ours, public health departments, universities, and school districts.

1. Expanding Health Pathways Funding

Students don’t necessarily understand what jobs exist in public health, and it is up to those seeking applicants to change this. Private companies attend job fairs and set up tables on campuses during career week, but public health is not usually there. In order to plan for a career, students need to know it exists. They need to understand what the jobs are, what the titles are, and what kind of preparation goes into securing them. They need to know what these jobs pay and what they can expect for their futures if they embark on a career in public health. 

Assembly Bill 1695 – a bill that would provide funding for a Nursing Pathway Program, which would provide an Associates in Nursing from any of California’s community colleges at several schools serving ninth through twelfth graders – is an excellent start.

However, we need similar funding and support for nonclinical pathways including management, administration, and education within the public health field, and we need to expand these into middle schools if we truly want to instill interest early on. Building pathways that increase exposure to career possibilities in public health creates a new generation of motivated and prepared applicants to enter the field. But funding is needed, and programs should start as early as possible in the schools.

2. Enhancing Collaborative, Project-Based Curriculum Design

Our workforce shortage isn’t just a factor of quantity. Equally important to the livelihood of our region’s public health is the quality of candidates we’re attracting and hiring. Public health departments often cite that candidates they’re recruiting – many of whom come from leading public health schools – still are not equipped with all of the soft and hard skill sets needed to excel in a modern public health environment.

Some skill sets traditionally missing in applicants include:

  • Grant writing: since 90% of health departments are funded by grants, writing applications is critical.
  • Budgetary competency: understanding how budgets are built and how to monitor them.
  • Complex data skills: applicants need to know how to mine data for insights and how to turn those insights into actionable strategy to direct limited resources for the most impact.
  • Technology and software: the tools have changed and will continue to evolve. The workforce needs to be adept at learning new tech and implementing it quickly. 
  • Grassroots interactions: with so many applicants having come up through remote education and relying on screens, many are unsure how to connect within their communities.
  • Written communication: training in proper and professional communication is crucial. 
  • Public speaking: the ability to motivate and mobilize groups is important, as is presenting recommendations and findings in order to inspire action. 

By increasing collaboration between public health departments, middle and high school CTE departments, and the schools of public health within our region, up-to-date training can be created to ensure that graduates are ready to step into active roles on day one, and are equipped with the skills needed to add value to a modern public health department. Collaborative, project-based curriculum design is one way to ensure that these programs meet the needs of the schools and also of the public health departments they ultimately funnel to. 

3. Rethinking HR Practices to Fit the New Workforce

Digitizing & Streamlining the Hiring Process

The current process takes far too long and has too many steps to be an effective way to fill critical -need positions. Though government agencies are notoriously slow to move, this is one area where accepting the status quo will cost us immensely, both in the near and long term.

Re-assessing Compensation Packages

The best talent will not settle for lower compensation, and when inflation is at record highs, graduates will not accept less than they would make in the same job in the private sector. The ongoing lack of funding to make salaries competitive continues to deter talent. It is critical that government agencies assess pay in comparison to industry benchmarks, knowing that for many of those who do choose a role in public health, it’s a choice they maintain for life, making them extremely valuable workers. 

More On-the-Job Training & Room for Promotions

Another way to offset the burden those in this field often feel is by investing in on-the-job training to ensure those new to the field can ramp up rapidly. Finally, job pathways must be identified for those who are interested in up-leveling inside the field. Many people leave because they have no upward trajectory.  

4. Addressing the Storytelling Problem in Public Health

Public health is an opportunity that has not been properly represented, especially as a generation rises that has demonstrated a desire to impact the world in a positive way. Students today are more invested in working for the greater good than any generation in recent memory, and public health is a very concrete way to ensure your work life has a real community impact. 

“In public health, we’re not impacting one person,”  Saruwatari noted. “It’s neighborhoods, communities, cities, entire counties.” 

 Saruwatari went on to talk about what inspires her to remain in the field and to do her best to recruit interested graduates to public health: 

“The thing that keeps me going is the desire to really get upstream and get people healthy so we can prevent the chronic diseases that are making them sick and keeping them home, keeping them from doing the things they love. I want Riverside County to be the healthiest county in the country. I want people to move here because they know we have an environment where they’re going to thrive.”

There is a lot of talk about the desire to work in a role that has a real impact on the world, and there is no question that public health offers such a place. For those coming out of corporate positions who have potentially felt empty or less than meaningful, public health makes a great second career. The field is eager for those with experience in tech, management consulting, strategy, marketing, change management, and more. 

The Bottom Line 

We’ve highlighted four major issues contributing to the need within public health, but what we really require is more forums and collaborative groups convening to hammer out the issues and find solutions. Some of this work is taking place, for instance in the Public Health Leadership Consortium led by Reach Out, where we are bringing together public health departments and public health colleges, along with workforce development boards and some funders to discuss how to approach the very real shortages within this critical field. We’re also part of Thrive Inland SoCal, which is discussing this issue along with others impacting our communities and economic development initiatives. 

It’s not enough, though. For this work to have the impact the Inland Empire needs it to have, more funding and more involvement from the K-12 community is needed. In order to build exposure pipelines to attract the bright young minds from within our community to take on this work, this crisis needs to be front of mind for those with the funds to help elevate it. Our kids deserve the awareness that K-12 exposure pipelines bring to the kinds of opportunities available to them, and our communities deserve to have fully staffed public health departments to ensure their well being. 

Without programmatic, coordinated exposure – and the funding required to deliver those programs – we’re one mass outbreak away from a recurrence of 2020, something our region and our people cannot afford. It’s due time – as policymakers, educators, funders, and community leaders – that we recognize the gravity of this challenge, while at the same time, not missing the profound opportunity to set the next generation of health workforce professionals up for success, while revitalizing the face of a profession that is ripe with opportunity to serve and enact change amidst a generation that is searching for an outlet to do so.


To learn more about Reach Out’s Public Health Leadership Consortium and our Work-Based Learning programs, or to inquire about funding initiatives for the public health workforce, contact Dr. Shermineh Davari: shermineh at we-reachout.org