by Kyle Bogaert, Director of Workforce Research, ASTHO and Elizabeth Harper, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation, ASTHO
ASTHO has partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation to launch the first-ever national “Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs (PH WINS) Model Policies and Practices Challenge.” This challenge will provide state and territorial health agencies and local health departments with the opportunity to identify and submit successful and transformative workforce development policies and practices for recognition as model policies and receipt of one of three $10,000 awards.
Through this challenge, both ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation will highlight workforce innovations that are changing the public health field. Population health cannot improve without a robust, well-trained, and sustained public health workforce. Today’s public health workforce must have the training, tools, and development supports that our increasingly diverse populations and their evolving health needs demand. Yet research indicates that most workforce development efforts are focused on discipline-specific skills, rather than cross-cutting areas such as systems thinking, change management, and effective communication. These skills are needed to adequately address the following public health workforce challenges:
- In 2014, nearly 40 percent of the workforce said they were planning to leave their jobs by 2020.
- Preliminary evidence suggests that governmental public health agencies generally do not have succession plans in place in order to address what appears to be possible large-scale turnover in the workforce.
- According to the 2014 PH WINS report, identified skills gaps in the workforce include policy analysis and development, business and financial management, and systems-thinking.
- While the overwhelming majority of agencies and departments support a “culture of learning,” only 59 percent of the workforce said that education and training objectives were institutionalized in their performance reviews.
To advance the public’s health, workforce investments beyond discipline-specific competencies must take center stage. Strategic skills development (i.e. systems-thinking and policy analysis), as well as robust recruitment and retention programs (i.e. diversity and inclusion practices, cultural competency trainings, and creativity incentives), are key drivers in employee satisfaction, the recruitment of stellar talent, and improved outputs. Using solutions like these, state, territorial, and local health agencies are poised to confront the workforce development and human resources challenges that stagnate the public health field.
The challenge aims to highlight examples of model policies or programs that may include succession planning, fostering innovation and creativity in team members, equitable recruitment and hiring practices, workforce and professional development and supports, among others. All policies and practices submitted for the challenge will be categorized by topic and included in a national database to facilitate the sharing of best practices with other state health agencies and local health departments.
Applications are due July 7, 2017.
ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation’s shared objective is to produce cutting-edge research and resources that empower public health officials at every level. This challenge is an effort to celebrate and honor what frontline champions of public health in states, territories, and cities across the country are doing to elevate the people and the tools we need to make America healthy. It is our firm belief that directly investing in and cultivating the present public health workforce will help produce the best and brightest community health outcomes for all.