What Is Health Academia?

health academia

Health academia performs three important functions: education and training, research, and service. The latter consists of community-identified needs and issues and can be accomplished through various centers and institutes.

Working as a clinical lecturer provides you with both training in your specialty and in academic research. Posts are usually held for a maximum of four years and are recruited through open competition nationally.

Education and Training

A major function of health academia is to educate and train health professionals. These professionals come from a variety of academic backgrounds – medicine, nursing, social work, veterinary science, law, public administration, and other disciplines.

In addition to teaching and training, many schools also provide global health research opportunities for their students. These opportunities allow students to gain experience in the field and build a network of colleagues.

Some schools also offer global health clinical rotations during medical school. This is an important way to introduce students to international public health and prepare them for careers in global health.

Academia also provides service to the community by conducting community-based participatory research, or through community-based learning programs. These activities help to meet the ASPH requirement for scholarship and can be used to support promotion and tenure decisions (Ludmerer, 1996). They can also expand the knowledge base and contribute to improvements in public health practice. Providing these services is not only a responsibility, but an obligation for health academia (Rhoads and Howard, 1998). The public benefits from this work as well.


Academic health systems invest in research and education to offer world-class care, innovation and training right where you live. The result: tertiary care hospitals that can offer patients specialized treatments and procedures not available elsewhere in the region, often with better outcomes than their peers.

In addition, academic institutions conduct basic and applied research in disciplines pertinent to public health and engage in community, public and professional service, such as through the use of student volunteers for community-based participatory research, service learning and activities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) prevention research centers, specialty centers and local exemplar centers. These activities can be considered scholarship and should be reflected in promotion and tenure policies.

Other types of research, such as information-based research examining large data sets, can be faster and less expensive than controlled experimental studies and might reveal phenomena not found in control trials. This type of research might also reexamine data accrued from other studies, such as clinical trials, to address new questions and issues that arise.


In addition to education and research, academic health centers must be prepared to deliver services, based on credible evidence from their own research and the expertise of their faculty and students. Such services can include assisting in the development of programs and policies that assure and improve the health of the public; identifying gaps in service to the community, and providing technical assistance; conducting community-based research; developing statewide information and surveillance systems; and preparing public health workers for the front line through training and professional development initiatives.

The committee recommends that academic institutions recognize, reward and encourage faculty participation in activities of community, public and professional service by making such involvement part of the scholarship criteria in promotion and tenure policies. Academic health centers should develop and implement procedures for evaluating and promoting community-based participatory research, training and service learning and work to strengthen the capacity of local and state public health agencies through such activities as health care advisory councils and collaborative research networks.


A common aspect of collaboration in health academia is community-based research. Generally, community-based research projects involve partnerships with communities to develop and implement studies that focus on problems identified by the communities themselves.

In addition to fostering research through collaboration, academic health centers play an important role in providing public health services and promoting health education. They have an obligation to serve the community and are often required to incorporate service into their promotion and tenure policies (see Section Service).

In the context of collaborative research, coordinated collaboration refers to a process where individuals work together to achieve a shared objective. Coordinated collaboration is ideal for larger, complex projects.