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Public Health Workforce Development Survey Completed

Posted May. 6, 2014

The Office of Public Health Practice and Partnerships (OPHPP) recently completed a survey of northeast Ohio local public health departments on workforce development.  The survey, conducted among health commissioners, environmental health directors, nursing directors and other senior administrators, inquired about education and training needs for current employees and the desired competencies of recent college graduates seeking employment in the field.
 
According to Assistant Dean of Operations and Community Relations Ken Slenkovich, director of the OPHPP, respondents ranked the following as chief training needs:  managing health department accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board; using geographic information systems (GIS) and graphics to communicate public health messages; implementing Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP), a community-driven strategic planning process for improving community health; developing a strategic plan; and creating community health improvement plans.
 
“Survey respondents indicated they prefer a hybrid approach to instruction, combining both face-to-face and online education,” observes Willie H. Oglesby, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy & Management and assistant director of the OPHPP.  “We’re in the process of developing continuing education modules that will address the five chief needs and hope to begin offering courses this summer.  The goal is to create a suite of programs that will help build capacity in region,” he adds.
 
In a separate survey, the OPHPP also investigated opinions from health commissioners about the competencies public health graduates should possess to work effectively in local health departments.  Commissioners who have hired College of Public Health (CPH) graduates also provided feedback regarding their competency.  This information will be used to ensure that Kent State’s degree programs are best aligned with the needs of prospective employers.
 
The top competencies identified by those surveyed were:

· Using collaborative methods and ethical standards for achieving organizational and community goals
· Applying epidemiological methods to assess the risk of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the community
· Developing written and oral presentations based on statistical analyses for both public health professionals and lay audiences
· Applying federal and state regulatory guidelines to programs that control environmental health issues
· Identifying the main issues related to organization, management, financing and delivery of health services in the United States
 
Employers indicating they have hired CPH graduates commented that they were “very qualified” and “very competent and well-prepared.”
 
“This feedback will factor into curriculum deliberations taking place later this year as part of the Council on Education for Public Health accreditation process,” Slenkovich says.