BUILDING CAPACITY OF THE STLT HEALTH EDUCATION WORKFORCE TO STRENGTHEN THE NATION’S PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM: A 360° APPROACH
State, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) public health agencies are facing transformational change along with unprecedented opportunities and challenges as they shift from less clinical service delivery to increased population-based services to address upstream causes of disease and social determinants of health. Within all STLT agencies, these challenges must be met with a public health workforce of adequate size, composition, distribution, and skills. Rural public health agencies are especially challenged with limited organizational capacities and need educational efforts for staff and local decision-makers in developing partnerships with academic institutions and community based-organizations for quality improvement. In addition to a limited health workforce, rural populations are unduly impacted by the opioid epidemic, chronic diseases, and experience difficulties in accessing quality health care. Thus, increasing STLT agencies’ capacities to meaningfully engage communities and strengthen their understanding of health equity in practice is vital.
The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has the requisite national reach and the knowledge, experience, and expertise, necessary to provide capacity-building assistance (CBA), effectively and efficiently to STLT health educators across all ten Health and Human Services (HHS) regions. Through SOPHE’s strategies and activities, health educators working in these agencies will increase their core and discipline-specific public health competencies to improve their job performance and enhance their capability to deliver essential public health services.
Consistent with Public Health 3.0: A Call to Action to Create a 21st Century Public Health Infrastructure, the activities and strategies outlined in this proposal are designed to: (a) increase leadership capacity to identify and prioritize public health needs; and (b) strengthen core and discipline-specific competencies among the health education workforce to improve job performance. SOPHE’s 360° systems approach addresses the need for STLT health education workforce development along the broad continuum of employment – from increasing the pipeline of health education students from graduate/undergraduate public health programs who are exposed to governmental public health agencies, and can assist overburdened governmental workforce staff; to existing STLT health education practitioners needing leadership skills for career advancement and to respond to changing public health priorities; and to health education faculty in graduate/undergraduate public health programs that are able to apply advanced knowledge and skills to strengthen the public health agencies. This approach will improve the leadership and workforce competencies of health education/promotion professionals in STLT public health departments, while addressing broad issues of public health workforce recruitment and retention.
SOPHE’s activities will support achieving the intermediate-level outcomes in CDC’s funding announcement logic model related to leadership and workforce development, and programs and services: (1) improved leadership decision-making to address public health needs strategically and systematically; (2) strengthened capability of the public health workforce to deliver essential public health services; and (3) increased capacity to implement evidence-based/informed public health programs, policies, and services to address public health needs. The desired impact or long-term outcomes of SOPHE’s proposed activities are a current, competent, and connected public health system, improved delivery of essential public health services, and enhanced health outcomes.