The Public Health Workforce Taxonomy: Revisions and Recommendations for Implementation

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Abstract

Public health workforce size and composition have been difficult to accurately determine because of the wide variety of methods used to define job title terms, occupational categories, and worker characteristics. In 2014, a preliminary consensus-based public health workforce taxonomy was published to standardize the manner in which workforce data are collected and analyzed by outlining uniform categories and terms. We summarize development of the taxonomy's 2017 iteration and provide guidelines for its implementation in public health workforce development efforts. To validate its utility, the 2014 taxonomy was pilot tested through quantitative and qualitative methods to determine whether further refinements were necessary. Pilot test findings were synthesized, themed by axis, and presented for review to an 11-member working group drawn from the community of experts in public health workforce development who refined the taxonomy content and structure through a consensus process. The 2017 public health workforce taxonomy consists of 287 specific classifications organized along 12 axes, intended for producing standardized descriptions of the public health workforce. The revised taxonomy provides enhanced clarity and inclusiveness for workforce characterization and will aid public health workforce researchers and workforce planning decision makers in gathering comparable, standardized data to accurately describe the public health workforce.

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