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Results and recommendations from a national public health workforce development systems assessment conducted in the United States

April 13, 2020

Authors: Christina Welter, Betty Bekemeier, and Jennifer McKeever

This article is published in the journal, Pedagogy in Health Promotion.

Multiple public health workforce development assessments report individual worker knowledge and skill-based training needs. These assessments do not capture practitioners’ in-depth perceptions of complex public health challenges and whether workforce development approaches address these issues.

To address this gap, the Public Health Learning Network (PHLN) – a national coalition of 10 Regional Public Health Training Centers located at United States accredited schools of public health, their partners, and the National Network of Public Health Institutes — conducted a public health workforce development assessment using a two-phased mixed-method design to explore systems-level gaps and opportunities for improving workforce development effectiveness. Phase I included a content analysis of major public health workforce development reports and peer-reviewed literature. Phase II included primary qualitative data collection of key informant interviews and focus groups via conference call with 43 participants representing 41 public health organizations at the local, state, and national levels.

Results included a wide range of challenges with an emphasis on major systems changes, the shift in public health’s role to more effectively build community collective capacity, limited staff capacity and capability, and the need for more flexible and integrated training funding. Public health workforce development approaches recommended to address these challenges include improving pedagogical approaches toward more integrated, multi-modal training delivered over time; increasing workforce capacity to address complex challenges such as racism and housing; and greater public health workforce development system coordination and alignment. PHLN’s workforce assessment also identified opportunities for conceptualizing the definition and delivery of training toward on-going learning.

This work is a continuation of the PHLN’s Strategic Workforce Action Agenda.

Focus Areas:
  • Workforce Training & Education

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