Alignment of PHAB Accredited State Health Agency Public Health Workforce Development Plans and the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS)

by Kathy Dunn, RN, MS


Focus on Accreditation and Innovation addresses current issues related to the Public Health Accreditation Board’s national public health department accreditation program, and the Public Health National Center for Innovations. This series highlights the experiences and perspectives of accredited health departments and explores topics related to the Standards and Measures, research and evaluation findings, and the latest innovations in public health practice.

Domain 8 of the Public Health Accreditation Board Standards and Measures (version 1.5) requires public health departments to maintain a competent and adequately staffed public health workforce to meet public health needs. These standards can be achieved through competency assessment and professional development of public health workers. Providing a competent workforce requires realistic policies and a sustained commitment to the development of a skilled public health workforce. Positive and supportive work environments are also vital to the success of public health organizations. Aspects of a supportive work environment may include diversity of staff, collaborative learning, employee recognition, a work/life balance, regular assessments of the organizational climate, and opportunities to promote health, wellness, and disease prevention.

It is estimated that approximately 40 percent of current public health employees will leave the workforce by the year 2020. Consequently, national public health organizations have identified public health workforce shortages as one of the most urgent priorities that need to be addressed. Enhanced workforce development plans will ensure congruent, quality public health service that will benefit the public at large. The Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), conducted in 2014, assessed priorities, needs, and characteristics of public health workers. Data analysis from this survey can lead to the introduction of actionable policies that will support the recruitment, development, and retention of an effective, high-performing workforce that is capable of meeting future challenges and creating a positive workplace environment.

PHAB Standards and Measures Version 1.5 reviewed 14 state health agency workforce development plans for the presence of employee self-reported competency gaps and work environment variables identified to be supportive to the workforce. This alignment focused on 18 measurable training gaps and 16 areas in which supervisors support staff in activities that enable staff development and succession planning. PHAB Measures 8.2.1 – Workforce Development Strategies and 8.2.4 – Work Environment is Supportive to the Workforce were aligned with the PH WINS data respectively. Read more about this analysis and how the PH WINS data can be used to enhance a health department’s workforce development plan in the spring 2018 special supplement of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

For further reading*:

For more on this topic, stay tuned for the JPHMP May/June 2018 Supplement on the Impact of Accreditation.

 

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Kathy Dunn, RN, MS, has worked as a public health nurse for the Cook County Department of Public Health for the past 33 years. She teaches population health and is a student in the doctorate of nursing practice program at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL.

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