The Public Health Workforce Expansion in Indian Country (PHWEIC) program will employ multi-agency collaboration with Tribal Colleges, the University of Montana School of Public and Community Health Sciences (UM), Montana State University, Tribal Health Departments, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Wyoming Department of Health, and associated entities to address American Indian public health capacity building and workforce development. Specifically, PHWEIC will support Tribal Colleges to facilitate future public health professionals with Master of Public Health degree completion programs, recruit new public health graduates, provide professional development opportunities, and leverage partnerships between educational institutions and tribal public health systems.
Public Health Fellows will pursue advanced degrees through the UM distance-based learning opportunities. They will be jointly housed under the leadership of Tribal Colleges and the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Epidemiology Center (RMTEC). Fellows will be acquainted with mentors at Tribal Colleges, RMTEC, and public health organizations to create a cross-integration of expertise and work capacity. Based on the (CDC) State, Tribal, Local & Territorial Public Health Professionals Gateway, Public Health Associate Program Curriculum (PHAP), the Fellowship will provide a unique, supportive work environment conducive of professional development and training. The culmination of the Fellows’ experience will involve a Quick Impact Project (QIP), or implementation of a culturally practice-based evidence program or service. The small-grants will support community prevention and wellness in various public health concentrations.
PHWEIC’s underlying theme will be development of multi-sector, results-driven partnerships. Fellows will serve not only as public health resources for the community, but as ambassadors for inter-agency collaboration and coordination. Acting at the grass-roots public health level, Fellows will influence community-based findings and interventions through contractual work with Tribal Health Departments, State Health Departments, transportation agencies, law enforcement agencies, and others. In American Indian community high schools and in collaboration with those school boards, Fellows will teach tribal youth about public health and safety. Fellows will perform a variety of health and educational services ranging from student mentorship to public health instruction. Fellows will also construct public health clubs at their Tribal Colleges as a platform for student-student public health growth. Additionally, RMTEC will use its website as a tool for dissemination of results, evaluations, and evidence-based findings; as a strategy for creating a virtual Community of Practice between Fellows and other tribal health professionals; and as a training resource for tribal public health workers searching for continuing education.
The program’s public health workforce development activities align with RMTEC’s multiple, ongoing efforts to promote sustainability while providing technical assistance to Tribes to develop local heath priorities and disease surveillance. The PHWEIC goals and objectives complement those of the RMTEC’s current funding under Tribal Epidemiology Center, Public Health Infrastructure project (CDC DP17-1704), and other core funding.
PHWEIC will set the stage for continued multi-sector collaboration, effective dissemination of community-driven findings, and increased Tribal public health workforce capacity.