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National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII)

2011 National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII)
Grantee Meeting

Atlanta, Georgia
March 30 – April 1, 2011

Workforce Development

Speakers: Ron Bialek, MPP, President, PHF; Denise Koo, MD, MPH, CAPT, USPHS Director, Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office, CDC; and Kate Wright, EdD, MPH, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University School of Public Health

Workforce Development - R. Bialek
Workforce Development - D. Koo
Workforce Development - K. Wright

Key Themes and Highlights:

  • This session highlighted how public health organizations can use workforce competencies and standards as a foundation for agency performance improvement.
  • The Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals is a consensus document developed by the Council on Linkages that describes desirable skills and characteristics of public health workers and is designed to serve as a starting point for organizations to guide their workforce development efforts. The Core Competencies span across eight domains of public health practice (e.g., cultural competency and community dimensions of practice) for three tiers of public health professionals (non-managerial, mid-level, senior/executive). The competencies are modifiable to each organization’s need or specific job role.
  • Over the next few months the Public Health Foundation (PHF) plans to unveil new tools to assist practitioners with using the competencies (e.g., toolkit, self assessments, 360s and workforce development plans).
  • One presenter detailed how workforce development standards were built into their public health agency accreditation process. It was highlighted that the workforce accreditation process should be ongoing, systematic and supported by a quality improvement management system that measures professional development. Important factors were the ability to demonstrate performance improvement and maturation by the agency and core staff over time. Useful practices were to “marry” the agency workforce development strategic plan with the performance improvement management system and to archive needs assessments for future staff performance reviews. It was also recommended that states review existing learning management systems for guidance such as the TRAIN system or contact their nearest Public Health Training Center.
  • CDC showcased the numerous leadership and training initiatives that benefit the state, local and tribal public health workforce. A few examples include the service learning (182) fellowships that have state/local placement and info-aids, on-site technical assistance that fellows provide to agencies on topics such as public health informatics and economic analysis (ex. info aids, econ-aids, epi-aids). The info-aid technical assistance is a valuable resource for agencies that do not have a fellow but can afford to subsidize the fellow’s travel. CDC is trying to expand this service, but currently it is a competitive process. CDC has also worked with national partners to develop tailored competencies for specific professions, such as applied epidemiologists and public health informaticians using the Core competencies as a foundation. CDC is currently developing a CDC “TRAIN” or learning management system that will be a searchable database for public health professionals.

Links Mentioned:
Applied Epi Competencies:

CDC Service and Learning Fellowships:

CDC’s Learning Connection:

Informatics Competencies:

Heartland Centers for Public Health and Community Capacity Development:

Public Health Training Centers:

The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice:


Questions and Answers:

Q: How do you build workforce development from the ground-up around quality and performance improvement?

A: Check the core holdings for TRAIN, review role delineated competencies, and look up the basic/intro levels of the QI categories to help you build the foundation. Try using a radar chart. This is a qualitative process that will help you get started. It will help you to plot each of the divisions…across the 8 domains (Core Competences).

Q: Regarding the quality improvement/performance improvement network, how do we sell [this idea] to leadership [in order] to address the need? Or added value? (Thirty percent do not have quality initiatives but they have to respond to the grants.)

A: Engage the Public Health Training Centers in addition to TRAIN. They can help with workforce needs assessments [and] they provide free assistance. Make a TA request for them to assess your workforce.

Q: Which one (learning management system- LMS) do I choose?

A: Piggyback on the free LMS while you decide. You also may be able to partner with one of the organizations that already have a system (PHTC). They have examples of learning plans, and they have been improving/developing these systems over the last 10 years. There are 29 new PHTCs with 10 more coming.

Q: What is TRAIN?

A: TrainingFinder Real-time Affiliated Integrated Network is a web-based learning management system that offers on-site training and distance learning opportunities.

Q: How do you mesh competencies?

A: Consider using COL competencies as a foundation for the broad skills; consider dive the Applied Epi competencies for epi skills.

Q: Can EconAids be deployed like other technical assistance (ex. Epi-aids)? What is the process and website?

A: Yes, you can request econ-aids or economic analysis -where a fellow will come to your agency, but you must provide their travel funds. I can get you in touch with the contact. For more information, please go to

Q: What is informatics?

A: A systematic application of science and information technology to public health research and learning. Information science is how it’s organized, (reframed) and used. It’s an interception discipline. You translate and/or design something to transform information through the use of technology.

Q: What tools would you use to measure the competence of an individual, nursing workforce, health educators?

A: Use a radar chart and discuss competencies. (It provides a pictorial of what is most important qualitatively, and staff competencies.) Also, consider a training needs assessment

Q: How can we get to know workforce development initiatives by Partners?

A: A QI resource at HRSA for the PHTCs is Wendy Brondt

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