How Can New Public Health Leaders Use the Accreditation Process to Foster Their Leadership Goals?

by Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN

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.

It isn’t easy being a new public health official. There are many competing priorities, and if the person is also new to public health, there is a learning curve about the art and science of their new field. After a new health official is appointed, there isn’t a lot of time to learn what they need to know to run an effective health department. And accreditation isn’t necessarily on their radar! But the PHAB accreditation Standards and Measures and the accreditation (or reaccreditation) process can be used to foster the new health official’s leadership goals. To that end, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) has developed a document that is just 12 pages long (including the pictures) that can assist with that. It’s titled “Health Department Accreditation: A Guide and Perspectives from Leaders to Their Peers.” A new health official, regardless of whether they are at the state, Tribal, local, or territorial level can use this Accreditation Leadership Guide to consider accreditation as “a process for transforming your health department into a high performing organization that delivers quality services to improve the lives of the people you serve” (page 1). Public health officials can download the document at PHAB hopes that new health officials will add this document to their library and refer to it often as they embark on their new position. And PHAB looks forward to working with them to ensure that accreditation meets their expectations!

Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN

Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the President and CEO of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), which administers the national, voluntary accreditation program for state, Tribal, local, and territorial health departments. Prior to joining PHAB in 2009, she worked in both local and state public health practice in the Mississippi State Department of Health, including serving as Deputy State Health Officer for 12 years. Prior to that, she served as Dean of the University of Mississippi Medical School of Nursing and Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing for six years. She was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2000.