Training for impact: the socio-economic impact of a fit for purpose health workforce on communities

Björg Pálsdóttir, Jean Barry, Andreia Bruno, Hugh Barr, Amy Clithero, Nadia Cobb, Jan De Maeseneer, Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, André-Jacques Neusy, Scott Reeves, Roger Strasser, Paul Worley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Across the globe, a "fit for purpose" health professional workforce is needed to meet health needs and challenges while capitalizing on existing resources and strengths of communities. However, the socio-economic impact of educating and deploying a fit for purpose health workforce can be challenging to evaluate. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of six promising strategies and interventions that provide context-relevant health professional education within the health system. The strategies focused on in the paper are: 1. Distributed community-engaged learning: Education occurs in or near underserved communities using a variety of educational modalities including distance learning. Communities served provide input into and actively participate in the education process. 2. Curriculum aligned with health needs: The health and social needs of targeted communities guide education, research and service programmes. 3. Fit for purpose workers: Education and career tracks are designed to meet the needs of the communities served. This includes cadres such as community health workers, accelerated medically trained clinicians and extended generalists. 4. Gender and social empowerment: Ensuring a diverse workforce that includes women having equal opportunity in education and are supported in their delivery of health services. 5. Interprofessional training: Teaching the knowledge, skills and attitudes for working in effective teams across professions. 6. South-south and north-south partnerships: Sharing of best practices and resources within and between countries. In sum, the sharing of resources, the development of a diverse and interprofessional workforce, the advancement of primary care and a strong community focus all contribute to a world where transformational education improves community health and maximizes the social and economic return on investment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Resources for Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Community engagement
  • Distributed learning
  • Economic impact
  • Health workforce education
  • Interprofessional education
  • Primary care
  • Social accountability
  • Social determinants of health
  • Social impact

Cite this