Health department infrastructure in the United States does not have sufficient capacity or training to prevent and respond to today’s leading causes of death, which are increasingly shown to be tied to social determinants of health (SDoH) and inequity. Programs are more reflective of the health concerns of the past than of the present or the future. To improve health outcomes, the public health field must expand its scope to address all factors that impact health and well-being. Modernizing the public health workforce requires building additional strategic skills to meaningfully impact the social, community-based and economic determinants of health.
Purpose: Through Building the Future Workforce: A National Initiative to Advance the Strategic Capacity of Public Health Agencies and Systems, the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) will leverage its well-established infrastructure and relationships to provide capacity building assistance (CBA) for the emerging Health Strategist Workforce – the target population for this proposal. The Health Strategist Workforce includes leaders and mid-career professionals in State, Tribal, Local and Territorial (STLT) health departments who have responsibility for transforming structures, systems and services, and engaging multi-sector partners to more effectively reduce the inequities that impact health and well-being. NNPHI’s efforts aim to build capacity in 10 critical, strategic skill areas: systems thinking, multi-sector collaboration, problem solving, quality and performance improvement, diversity and inclusion, change management, data analytics, communication, resource management, and policy engagement.
NNPHI will deliver Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) through 4 interlocking strategies: 1) assess CBA needs; 2) provide engaging online and in-person training opportunities to build capacity in strategic skills; 3) facilitate applied learning collaboratives to deepen skill acquisition, and 4) ensure the broadest reach possible of CBA through dissemination of key innovations, tools, and resources. The CBA strategies will build the capacity of the health strategist workforce and public health systems to:
- Assess & address gaps in organizational performance, through tools such as the national accreditation standards;
- Establish & implement workforce development plans to build workforce capacity in strategic skills, as well as recruitment, diversification and retention;
- Engage with the public health system & community in identifying & addressing health problems through collaborative processes; and,
- Address the SDoH, health, health disparities & inequities.
Outcomes: The outcomes of the initiative include:
- Strengthened capability to respond to public health priorities strategically & collaboratively
- Increased capability of public health systems to achieve nationally-established accreditation standards, particularly Domain 4 (Engage with the Community to Identify and Address Health Problems) and Domain 8 (Maintain a Competent Public Health Workforce) from the Standards and Measures version 1.5
- Strengthened capability of the public health workforce to address upstream social determinants of health