michigan informatics



The increasing amount of health information available over the Internet can make it more challenging to track all the latest news and developments within public health. This tutorial covers strategies and resources to improve your professional effectiveness in staying informed of news and developments in public health. Keeping up-to-date can take as much or as little time and money as you have available. As a public health practitioner, it is essential to develop an action plan for incorporating these current awareness strategies and resources into your work routine.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify strategies and resources to help stay informed of news and developments related to your area(s) of interest within public health
  • Develop an action plan for incorporating these current awareness strategies and resources into your work routine

Supported Competencies

Reference: Developed by The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice.

  • Analytic/Assessment Skills
    • Identifies relevant and appropriate data and information sources
  • Policy Development/Program Planning Skills
    • Collects, summarizes, and interprets information relevant to an issue
  • Basic Public Health Sciences Skills
    • Identifies and retrieves current relevant scientific evidence

Why adopt a new strategy for staying informed?

Throughout your professional career, you will have various reasons for staying informed. For example, you may have a long-term interest in community health and want to stay informed of all the latest news and development on this subject. At the same time, you might need to temporarily develop more knowledge in an area outside of your regular area of expertise. Perhaps you are filling in for a colleague, working on a specific outreach project, or applying for a new position. You may now need to have a short-term interest in learning about injury prevention programs.

Here are some reasons to adopt a new strategy for staying informed.

Professional responsibility

The Public Health Code of Ethics suggests that public health workers should seek the information needed to implement effective policies and programs that protect and promote health.

Economic constraints

During financially difficult times, you may not be able to attend professional meetings or continuing education opportunities.

Timely access to information

An effective current awareness strategy can provide information as soon as it is available - no waiting for a subscription to print materials or inter-office routing.

Career development & advancement

When you are aware of the latest information, you can answer, “Yes!” when a colleague asks if you heard about a recently published journal article. Being informed about developments in public health is important at every level of your career.

Identify experts in the field

Tracking the news and knowing who publishes on topics of interest can help you identify experts in other agencies, academia, the community, and the health care field.

Provide cutting-edge services

Being on top of the news permits you to prepare responses or proposals to meet information or program needs raised by current issues. SARS and Avian Flu are just two recent examples.

Tutorial content adapted from:

Alpi, Kris (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY). "Keeping Informed about Public Health Concerns” in Public health information and data: a training manual. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2004 [cited January 1, 2006] and Public Health Information and Data Tutorials