BACKGROUND: Since the tragic events experienced on September 11, 2001, and other recent events such as the hurricane devastation in the southeastern parts of the country and the emergent H1N1season, the need for a competent public health workforce has become vitally important for securing and protecting the greater population. Objective: The primary objective of the study was to assess the training needs of the U.S. Mexico border states public health workforce. METHODS: The Arizona Center for Public Health Preparedness of the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at The University of Arizona implemented a border-wide needs assessment. The online survey was designed to assess and prioritize core public health competencies as well as bioterrorism, infectious disease, and border/binational training needs. RESULTS: Approximately 80% of the respondents were employed by agencies that serve both rural and urban communities. Respondents listed 23 different functional roles that best describe their positions. Approximately 35% of the respondents were primarily employed by state health departments, twenty-seven percent (30%) of the survey participants reported working at the local level, and 19% indicated they worked in other government settings (e.g. community health centers and other non-governmental organizations). Of the 163 survey participants, a minority reported that they felt they were well prepared in the Core Bioterrorism competencies. The sections on Border Competency, Surveillance/Epidemiology, Communications/Media Relations and Cultural Responsiveness, did not generate a rating of 70% or greater on the importance level of survey participants. CONCLUSIONS: The study provided the opportunity to examine the issues of public health emergency preparedness within the framework of the border as a region addressing both unique needs and context. The most salient findings highlight the need to enhance the border competency skills of individuals whose roles include a special focus on emergency preparedness and response along the US-Mexico border.
J Inj Violence Res. 2011 Jan; 3(1): 1-11. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v3i1.55