Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

1 - Definition and list of health professionals

Definition of health professionals

Health professionals maintain health in humans through the application of the principles and procedures of evidence-based medicine and caring. Health professionals study, diagnose, treat and prevent human illness, injury and other physical and mental impairments in accordance with the needs of the populations they serve. They advise on or apply preventive and curative measures, and promote health with the ultimate goal of meeting the health needs and expectations of individuals and populations, and improving population health outcomes. They also conduct research and improve or develop concepts, theories and operational methods to advance evidence-based health care. Their duties may include the supervision of other health workers (adapted from ILO 2008; WHO 2010; Gupta 2011).

List of health professionals considered within the literature review

Occupations in this sub-major group are classified into several minor groups. To facilitate the development of the WHO guidelines for transforming and scaling up health professional education and training, the literature review will focus on the following list of health professionals, as defined by the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) (ILO 2008; WHO 2010).

  • Medical Doctors – both Generalist and Specialist Practitioners, including Public Health Doctors (ISCO-08 minor group 221).
  • Nursing Professionals, including Public Health Nurses (ISCO-08 minor group 222, unit 2221).
  • Midwifery Professionals, including Public Health Midwives (ISCO-08 minor group 222, unit 2222).
  • Dentists (ISCO-08 minor group 226, unit 2261).
  • Pharmacists (ISCO-08  minor group 226, unit 2262).

To simplify and streamline the literature review, this list excludes several groups under the ISCO-08 definition of health professionals, such as traditional and complementary medicine professionals (ISCO-08  minor group 223) , paramedical practitioners (ISCO-08  minor group 224), dieticians and nutritionists (ISCO-08  minor group 226, unit 2265), physiotherapists  (ISCO-08  minor group 226, unit 2264),  and several other therapy-related occupations.