IETA Program Overview
The International Experience & Technical Assistance (IETA) Program was established in 1997, as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) continued to increase its role in the direct provision of global prevention and prevention research programs. The program was designed to offer Federal Public Health Service employees the opportunity to gain experience overseas, while at the same time providing technical assistance to countries. Today, the program is managed by CDC’s Center for Global Health Overseas Operations Office (CGH/OD/OOO) in Atlanta, Georgia and follows the same principles upon which it was founded.
Program Goals and Objectives
The IETA program seeks to enhance and draw on an individual’s cultural competency, adaptability, and problem-solving skills in order to increase their ability to work effectively in an international setting. As such, the competitive developmental training program has four main objectives:
- Build a pool of CDC staff qualified for and interested in long-term assignments in our global programs.
- Create a cadre of staff capable of responding to increasing requests for short-term international technical assistance.
- Provide IETA participants with a supervised work experience in the international public health sector.
- Support personnel needs of CDC programs and organizations benefiting from IETA assignees working abroad.
Benefits of the program are two-fold: IETA provides its participants with an opportunity to gain experience in the international public health sector while supporting personnel needs of CDC programs as organizations benefit from IETA assignees’ technical skills and abilities.
Format and Expenses
Over a 12-month period, IETA participants complete three workshops in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a supervised international assignment of at least 12 weeks with an established CDC program or international organization. Participants continue to work in their current positions with time away to attend workshops and complete their international assignments. The employee’s home office covers salary and any travel costs associated with IETA program training. The host program office covers all costs associated with the international assignment. This includes travel costs as well as costs for security training required for overseas deployment to their host country.
IETA workshops are designed to introduce participants to CDC global health programs as well as the IETA program itself. They also intend to cover practical issues of international travel and overseas work.
The first workshop, Orientation to International Work, is a 3-day workshop that takes place in October. It covers a number of topics, including, but not limited to:
- Introduction to CDC’s overseas programs, international public health organizations, Ministries of Health, and American Embassies
- IETA Program Overview
- Preparation for overseas assignments: the travel process, obtaining medical clearance, available resources and benefits
- Perspectives from IETA Alumnae & Supervisors
The second workshop, Realities of the Field, takes place in December. It consists mainly of the 3-day Preparing for Work Overseas (PFWO) course required by the Department of State, along with several IETA-specific sessions on the fourth day. Together, this workshop covers various topics such as:
- Preparation for Overseas Assignments: Resources, Available Benefits, Staying Healthy
- International safety & security concerns
- Preparing for Cross-cultural aspects of working internationally
Participants who have already taken PFWO are not required to take it again, but are asked to attend the IETA-specific sessions held the day after PFWO ends.
The third and final workshop takes place in August, after all participants have completed their assignments. It is generally 3 days in duration. Participants report individually on their overseas experience, sharing information about their technical work as well as lessons learned, challenges and surprises. There is also a focus on making further short- and long-term overseas assignments/jobs a reality.
Additional security trainings may be required for long-term overseas assignments as detailed by the U.S. Department of State. CDC’s Office of Safety, Security, and Asset Management (OSSAM) provides more information on its intranet site. To confirm, any costs associated with these trainings will be covered by the overseas hosting office.
IETA participants are required to complete a supervised international field assignment of at least 12 weeks. It is not uncommon participants serve for longer periods of time based on program need and participant availability. International assignments determined appropriate will include:
- A scope of work with a clear objective and specific tasks that will be performed;
- An in-country supervisor who will be able to evaluate the assignee’s performance; and;
- Clear opportunities for the assignee to develop his/her professional expertise, demonstrate leadership skills, and make tangible contributions toward the success of the international program.
There are a variety of skills IETA participants might draw upon when overseas. These include, but are not limited to:
- Program Management/Administration
- Program Delivery/Implementation
- Health Education/Training
- Health Communication
- Behavioral and Social Science
- Policy, Planning and Analysis
Programs hosting IETA assignees since 1997 have included:
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (CGH/DGHT)
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Division of Global Health Protection (CGH/DGHP)
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Global Immunization Division (GID)
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Stop the Transmission of Polio (STOP) Initiative
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria (DPDM)
- CDC Center for Global Health’s Office of the Director (CGH/OD)
- CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases’ Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (NCEZID/DGMQ)
- World Health Organization: SEARO, AFRO, and Geneva
Certificates of completion are awarded to participants who attend all program workshops (3) and complete an international field assignment (minimum 12 weeks). The required documentation for the project:
- International Trip Report required by the US government for all international travel;
- Evaluation of Supervisor assessing the host country supervisor;
- Supervisor’s Evaluation, completed by host country supervisor, assessing the assignee’s performance and the IETA program.
Recommendations are also solicited during each workshop, both in written and participatory group format, in order to gauge the effectiveness of the training program.
In sum, 369 Federal Employees have completed the program since 1997. An alumni survey conducted in 2013 reported:
- 97% confirmed IETA helped prepare them to better apply their public health skills overseas
- 94% confirmed IETA helped them develop their cultural competence
- 92% confirmed IETA helped them better negotiate the logistics of traveling overseas with CDC
- 98.55% confirmed they were satisfied with the IETA program
At least 40% of IETA alumni have taken short-term overseas assignments after completing the IETA program. An estimated 18% having taken long-term U.S.-based assignments and 14% have taken long-term overseas assignments.