With its emphasis on transdisciplinary approaches to promoting social and community health, public health social work is especially relevant to 21st century issues.
Widespread social changes affect millions of people every day: the economic downturn; globalization and increased migration; natural and man-made disasters; persistent chronic diseases and resulting health disparities, are examples of the major challenges we face as a nation.
Experts agree there are not enough public health professionals to address these critical issues in the US, nor is prevention adequately funded (Gebbie and Turnock, 2006). Each year, approximately $2 trillion is spent on health care in the United States. Only 5% goes to prevention of disease, disability and injury. (Centers for Disease Control.)
Perhaps now more than ever, public health social workers are needed to meet these challenges, and support the nation’s foundation of public health.
Public health social work “works.” For example: research shows that emergency departments (ED) employing public health social workers to address the needs of patients, including connecting patients to resources to prevent future visits, could save hundreds of thousands of dollars, in addition to decreasing the utilization of services and maximizing the medical staff’s time (Gordon, JA, 2001).