Building Organizational Capacity to Face a Changing Public Health Landscape

 

Iris Smith, PhD

 

The landscape of public health is constantly changing because of emerging trends, changes in the socio-political environment, health policy, and new research findings. The continued opioid epidemic and the COVID 19 pandemic have created new challenges for the public health workforce. Ensuring that the prevention workforce is informed and prepared to meet the challenges of this changing environment is an important part of the strategic planning process. 

 

Effective planning for workforce development should be based on analysis of changes or trends in indicators such as substance use, availability, associated consequences, and risk and protective factors. This data can be helpful in determining the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective prevention strategies. Epidemiology partners can assist management in this effort through ongoing monitoring of national, state, and available local data. Such data can be helpful in forecasting future workforce needs. Epidemiologists can provide support for this process by developing appropriate data collection tools and strategies, assisting with the analysis and interpretation of findings from the workforce assessment, as well as identify best practices from other states.  

 

Credentialing is another way to ensure that preventionists have achieved core competencies in prevention practice. The Prevention Specialist (PS) credential ensures that individuals demonstrate competence based on work experience, education, supervision, and objective examination. There are now more than 50 U.S. states, territories, and countries that offer the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) certification with many members offering reciprocity with other geographic areas. Certification also represents an individual’s commitment, competence, knowledge, and skills to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate prevention strategies in the community. 

 

Although PS Certification through IC&RC is generally encouraged by state and federal agencies that promote or fund prevention programs, research on the individual and organizational characteristics and benefits associated with certification is lacking.  However, research on other professional certification programs provide some interesting insights.  A study of respondents to the 2015 Association of Prevention and Infection Control (APIC) MegaSurvey completed by 4,078 Infection Preventionists found that individuals were less likely to be certified in infection control (CIC) if their educational attainment was less than a bachelor’s degree, they were age 18-45, worked in rural facilities, and had <16 years prior experience in infection control.  This study found that certification was more likely to be attained when the cost of certification was borne by the employer and was associated with a self-rating of competency as proficient and expert in surveillance and epidemiologic investigation.1 

 

A 2018 case study analysis found that the CIC was associated with a reduction in organizational costs, improved competence, employee retention, and a positive return on investment.2  A study of the association between competency and motivation for training in core public health domains may vary by employee status.  A study on the relationship between job level and motivation for training in core public health domains found that upper managers lacking competence in the core domains of Financial Planning and Management, Analysis/Assessment, Communication, Cultural Competency, Leadership/Systems Thinking, Policy Development/Program Planning, Public Health Sciences, and Community Dimensions of Practice were more motivated to seek additional training compared to nonmanagers lacking overall competence. In this study there was no association between competency in the core domains and motivation for related training among middle managers.4

 

Effective prevention practice requires a competent skilled workforce. Certification is one way to ensure that prevention staff achieve a minimum or core level of competence in key domains.  Certification, including periodic training updates can also help to increase staff retention, employability, and ability to meet the challenges of current and future public health challenges.

 

Resources

 

 


1 Kalp EL, Harris JJ, Zawistowski G (2018)  Predictors of Certification in Infection Prevention and Control Among Infection Preventionists:  APIC MegaSurvey Findings.  American Journal of Infection Control 46; pg. 858-864.

2 Matthews SD, Jackson JT (2021).  Application of a Return of Investment Analysis for Public Health Training by Case Study.  American Journal of Infection Control 49; pg. 1522-1527.

3 Cunningham JK (2022).  Competency Status and Desire for Training in Core Public Health Domains:  An Anallysis by Job Level.   www.JPHMP.com , 28(4); pg. 406-416.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The landscape of public health is constantly changing because of emerging trends, changes in the socio-political environment, health policy, and new research findings. The continued opioid epidemic and the COVID 19 pandemic have created new challenges for the public health workforce. Ensuring that the prevention workforce is informed and prepared to meet the challenges of this changing environment is an important part of the strategic planning process. 

 

Effective planning for workforce development should be based on analysis of changes or trends in indicators such as substance use, availability, associated consequences, and risk and protective factors. This data can be helpful in determining the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective prevention strategies. Epidemiology partners can assist management in this effort through ongoing monitoring of national, state, and available local data. Such data can be helpful in forecasting future workforce needs. Epidemiologists can provide support for this process by developing appropriate data collection tools and strategies, assisting with the analysis and interpretation of findings from the workforce assessment, as well as identify best practices from other states.

 

Credentialing is another way to ensure that preventionists have achieved core competencies in prevention practice. The Prevention Specialist (PS) credential ensures that individuals demonstrate competence based on work experience, education, supervision, and objective examination. There are now more than 50 U.S. states, territories and countries that offer the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) certification with many members offering reciprocity with other geographic areas. Certification also represents an individual’s commitment, competence, knowledge, and skills to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate prevention strategies in the community. 

 

Although PS Certification through IC&RC is generally encouraged by state and federal agencies that promote or fund prevention programs, research on the individual and organizational characteristics and benefits associated with certification is lacking.  However, research on other professional certification programs provide some interesting insights.  A study of respondents to the 2015 Association of Prevention and Infection Control (APIC) MegaSurvey completed by 4,078 Infection Preventionists found that individuals were less likely to be certified in infection control (CIC) if their educational attainment was less than a bachelor’s degree, they were age 18-45, worked in rural facilities, and had <16 years prior experience in infection control.  This study found that certification was more likely to be attained when the cost of certification was borne by the employer and was associated with a self-rating of competency as proficient and expert in surveillance and epidemiologic investigation. [1]   

 

A 2018 case study analysis found that the CIC was associated with a reduction in organizational costs, improved competence, employee retention, and a positive return on investment.[2]  A study of the association between competency and motivation for training in core public health domains may vary by employee status.  A study on the relationship between job level and motivation for training in core public health domains found that upper managers lacking competence in the core domains of Financial Planning and Management, Analysis/Assessment, Communication, Cultural Competency, Leadership/Systems Thinking, Policy Development/Program Planning, Public Health Sciences, and Community Dimensions of Practice were more motivated to seek additional training compared to nonmanagers lacking overall competence. In this study there was no association between competency in the core domains and motivation for related training among middle managers.[3]

 

Effective prevention practice requires a competent skilled workforce. Certification is one way to ensure that prevention staff achieve a minimum or core level of competence in key domains.  Certification, including periodic training updates can also help to increase staff retention, employability, and ability to meet the challenges of current and future public health challenges.

 

Resources

 

International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium. https://internationalcredentialing.org/

 

South Southwest PTTC (HHS Region 6) (2021).  Assessing and Sharpening Advanced Skills:  A Tool for Prevention Workforce Assessment.

https://pttcnetwork.org/centers/south-southwest-pttc/product/assessing-and-sharpening-advanced-skills-tool-prevention

 


[1] Kalp EL, Harris JJ, Zawistowski G (2018)  Predictors of Certification in Infection Prevention and Control Among Infection Preventionists:  APIC MegaSurvey Findings.  American Journal of Infection Control 46; pg. 858-864.

[2] Matthews SD, Jackson JT (2021).  Application of a Return of Investment Analysis for Public Health Training by Case Study.  American Journal of Infection Control 49; pg. 1522-1527.

[3] Cunningham JK (2022).  Competency Status and Desire for Training in Core Public Health Domains:  An Anallysis by Job Level.   www.JPHMP.com , 28(4); pg. 406-416.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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