About Our Program
EIS was established in 1951 and is CDC’s globally recognized applied epidemiology training program. EIS offers an unparalleled service and learning program. EIS officers are CDC’s disease detectives who learn from and work alongside subject matter experts while providing service to domestic and international partners. EIS has trained over 4,000 disease detectives who have investigated and responded to a wide range of public health challenges and emergencies. EIS maintains its core focus on training disease detectives to practice consequential epidemiology, which is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data for evidence-based public health action.
EIS will continue preparing generations of public health leaders for years to come. The EIS program is committed to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). For both EIS officers and our staff, we are taking steps to attract and recruit highly trained and service-oriented applicants from a variety of disciplines, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and geographic locations. Increasing and maintaining diversity among our EIS officers and program staff ensures a richer variety of perspectives and experiences within the program and within our role to strengthen the public health workforce.
How EIS is infusing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility into all elements of the program
The EIS program constantly evolves as the field of epidemiology, the science of learning and communication, and the needs of CDC and state and local health departments change over time. With 98% of EIS officers remaining in public health positions after the fellowship, the EIS program is uniquely positioned to influence the diversity of the public health workforce and its leadership. We recognize this opportunity and accept the responsibility to embody DEIA in all elements of our fellowship program, from recruitment and selection to training of officers and program staff.
To increase diversity in public health and incorporate DEIA into the heart of the EIS program, we have made organizational changes in how we recruit, select, and train our officers and program staff. The following describes some of these changes and supporting activities.
EIS Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility (DEIA) Council: In 2021, we formed the EIS DEIA Council to provide guidance on a range of priorities and actions. The Council now meets quarterly and advises on all DEIA efforts throughout the EIS program. Council membership includes diverse representation including EIS alumni, current officers, and representatives from disciplines and offices across the agency.
EIS Officer Recruitment: We actively work to increase access to information about the program and to promote diversity in the pool of candidates who apply to become EIS officers or staff. Diverse EIS classes enrich peer learning and lead to a more diverse public health workforce. Promoting diversity among EIS program staff enables more supportive supervision and leads to a more inclusive workplace that can better foster a sense of belonging for both EIS officers and staff. As of November 2022, we have:
- Developed a series of webinars on the EIS experience and application process to increase accessibility to information; previously, only candidates who knew or had access to current EIS officers or alumni were able to obtain this information
- Sought input from the EIS DEIA Council to improve methods for promoting staff vacancies to increase diversity in the pool of candidates applying for EIS program staff positions
- Worked with groups from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations at CDC to develop strategies to increase awareness of EIS among Black, Hispanic, and indigenous American candidates
Selection: Since 2020, we continuously examine all elements of the application and selection processes to minimize bias and discrimination. In this area, we:
- Require unconscious bias training for anyone conducting EIS candidate interviews
- Require all staff involved in the selection process to participate in a workshop on minimizing bias and discrimination
- Held an external review of our candidate selection process and made changes to be more standardized and objective and to reduce potential for bias and discrimination
- Reached out to alumni from historically underrepresented groups to participate in EIS interviews
- Have engaged a DEIA expert external to the program to serve as an equity advocate and participate in the selection process
- Shifted from in-person to virtual interviews to make it easier for candidates across geographic locations to apply to EIS
- Adopted the use of standardized letters of reference to ensure all applicants are being rated on the same criteria
Training: We are infusing health equity principles into all elements of our training and have taken the following actions as of November 2022:
- Added racism as a public health issue within the required EIS curriculum
- Included a health equity seminar as part of the required EIS curriculum
- Require programs that host EIS officers (or host sites) to specify their plans for incorporating health equity into their EIS positions
- Require that EIS officers and program staff use non-stigmatizing and culturally appropriate language and images when referring to people and populations
- Created a seminar on cultural sensitivity and community engagement
CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) 70th anniversary celebration took place virtually on June 4, 2021. This webinar features a lecture given by former CDC Director Dr. Bill Foege and remarks from current CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and former CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat. The event also includes awards, video tributes, a special accolade in honor of Dr. Schuchat’s retirement, and a presentation of a diverse panel of EIS alumni who share stories of their public health careers.