Notes from the NCCPHT: Re-Visioning a Network of Public Health Training Centers

In September, 2014, NNPHI received funding from the Health Resources and Services Agency (HRSA) to serve as the new National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training (NCCPHT). Written into Affordable Care Act legislation, the NCCPHT provides support to a network of 10 regional Public Health Training Centers and 39 Local Performance Sites in addition to nation-wide access to high-quality public health training, resources, and tools.

While public health training centers have been funded since 1999, HRSA has laid the groundwork for a new era in public health training by re-visioning the model from each training centers operating independently. We are now becoming an active network of training centers and strategic partners that have the collective capacity to shape public health training and practice.

Our first steps: Applying a Collective Impact lens to the development of a network

The first step in the journey has been formalizing the network by composing a shared vision, mission, and values which sets the stage for Collective Impact. According to John Kania, Managing Director of FSG and Mark Kramer, FSG’s Founder and Managing Director, the Collective Impact framework includes five stated conditions that allow for cross-sector partnerships to achieve large-scale impact:

  1. Common Agenda,
  2. Shared Measurement,
  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities,
  4. Continuous Communication, and
  5. Backbone Support

By viewing the creation of a formalized network of regional PHTCs through a Collective Impact lens, NNPHI recognizes that challenges and solutions for workforce development arise from the interaction of many organizations within a larger system. According to Kania and Kramer, progress will hinge on:

“The five conditions for collective impact serve as rules for interaction that lead to synchronized and emergent results. A common agenda, if authentic, creates intentionality and enables all participating organizations to “see” solutions and resources through similar eyes. Shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, and continuous communication enable participants to learn and react consistently with the common agenda to emerging problems and opportunities. Meanwhile, the backbone organization supports fidelity by the various cross-sector players to both the common agenda and rules for interaction.”

As a network of regional PHTCs, we’re building a strong infrastructure (backbone support) that supports work towards the same goals (common agenda) and facilitates measurement of the same things (shared measurement). Regional PHTCs and other stakeholders must actively coordinate their actions (mutually reinforcing activities) and share lessons learned (continuous communication) in order to be impactful in transforming public health trainings and ultimately improving health outcomes.

Reflections on our first year

Bringing theory and practice together in our first year, the NCCPHT’s has:

  • Assembled a core and cross-collaborative staff team.
  • Formed an Advisory Council and convened the council to provide guidance for the design and implementation of the NCCPHT work.
  • Established three active workgroups in partnership with the regional PHTCs:
    • Regional Coordinators Workgroup: Using a model of shared facilitation and documentation, the Regional Coordinators from each of the 10 regional PHTCs come together one-time monthly to share information and collaborate.
    • Needs Assessment and Evaluation Workgroup: Convened by NNPHI, the Needs Assessment and Evaluation Workgroup is convened one to two times monthly.
    • Communications Workgroup: Convened by NNPHI on an as-needed basis, the Communications Workgroup is facilitating a messaging and branding process for the regional PHTC Network.
  • Created online solutions to increase opportunities for collaboration across the network, including:
    • Establishment of ListServs for each of the workgroups, and
    • Creation of an online exchange using the ‘CourseSites’ platform by Blackboard. The online exchange offers a space where workgroups, ad-hoc groups, and regional groups (e.g., the regional PHTC and LPS of one regional area) can collaborate and co-create.
  • Created a strategic implementation and sustainability plan

Our future

Stay tuned for additional updates and information from the NCCPHT’s progress!


Jennifer McKeever, MSW, MPH

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