The following ERC and TPG activities contribute to achieving the intended program results or outputs. Specific activities include professional and practitioner training, research training, continuing education, outreach activities, and program accreditation.
Professional and Practitioner Training
An essential component of ERC activity is directed towards the goal of increasing the OSH workforce resource in the United States. Master’s level training (and post-doctoral training for occupational medicine) has traditionally been the principal mechanism for achievement of this goal. ERCs clearly state their goals for formal academic training for degrees in the core areas of OSH and emphasize the benefits to be gained when professional and practitioner training is conducted in an interdisciplinary environment.
During the past decade, increased emphasis has been placed on doctoral research training within ERCs. Funding additional component programs beyond medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, and safety has also contributed to an increased emphasis on research training.
All ERCs are required to provide continuing education courses to OSH professionals and others based on needs assessment in their respective regions. Although 400 trainees per year is the required minimum number of trainees per ERC, trainee numbers far exceed that figure. In 2008–09, 1,736 courses were provided to more than 46,000 trainees.
Historically, ERCs have provided outreach activities that have included education for other academic programs, presentations at professional conferences, and other consultation activities. Outreach allows OSH professionals to share their expertise in curriculum development, research training, and disseminating research information to broader audiences. All ERC faculty members are expected to engage in outreach activities.
Translational Research to Practice
The ERCs and TPGs play important roles in translating research to practice through publication in peer-reviewed journals, outreach activities to other universities as well as to the practice field, and the conduct of translational research within occupational settings. Most of the ERCs give priority funding for pilot projects that have a research to practice component. The training environment of doctoral students, professionals, and practitioners provides enhanced opportunities to build both training and research partnerships with employers, thereby facilitating the integration of research findings into practice.
Ongoing Needs Assessments
In concert with advisory boards, ERCs and TPGs engage in ongoing assessment of occupational health and safety needs in their areas. These assessments include but are not limited to the workforce, role expectation, and legislative and policy characteristics of work environments. ERCs combine national, regional, and local data to develop programs that meet the needs.
Although individual programs provide evidence of ongoing needs assessment for continued funding, these assessments are not currently aggregated at a national level to provide an assessment of the overall effectiveness of the training grants program.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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