Giving a Voice to Public Health Practitioners: An Interview with JPHMP Founding Editor Dr. Lloyd F. Novick

by Sheryl Monks, MFA

For 25 years, the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has captured the most pressing issues in public health practice, including the movement for health department accreditation, public health preparedness, workforce development, and quality improvement, and at the same time, it has given a voice to public health practitioners. Dr. Lloyd Novick, who founded the journal in 1995, shares his thoughts on the many ways that JPHMP has contributed to the progress of public health improvement by making advances known to the public health community at the local, state, and federal levels. 

“The purpose of the journal was to give a voice to public health practitioners, encouraging public health practitioners to actually contribute to the literature because we thought their viewpoint was very valuable.”

Transcript of video:

JPHMP Direct: Thank you, Dr. Novick, for speaking with me today. The first question I have is can you briefly describe your medical training and background in public health?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: Yes, I went to New York University School of Medicine. Following that, I interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. And then I spent two years in the public health service. I wasn’t doing public health. I was a primary care physician in the Coast Guard. And when I finished with that, I did a preventative medicine residency at the New York City Department of Health. During that residency, I was the District Health Officer for Central Harlem. And a year of that residency, I spent at Yale University School of Public Health.

JPHMP Direct: So 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of JPHMP. Can you reflect on some of the public health challenges that were present back in 1995 when you started the journal, and what role you felt a publication of this type could serve to meet some of those challenges?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: Well, many of the challenges in 1995 were similar to ones we have today. Our first issue was on health reform, universal health insurance. But that was the Clinton proposal. There’s an interesting story there that I had an entire issue with articles about the Clinton proposal, but shortly before the issue published, while the issue was in proofs, the Clinton effort failed and we had to edit the articles in the proofs to show that the proposal had failed. Many of the issues then were similar to what we have today. We had issues on preparedness, issues on workforce. The purpose of the journal was to give a voice to public health practitioners, encouraging public health practitioners to actually contribute to the literature because we thought their viewpoint was very valuable, and we thought also that by them contributing to the scientific literature, they would not only make the scientific literature more rich, but that they would improve their job performance as well. 

JPHMP Direct: What have been some of the journal’s crowning achievements?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: The journal has really captured the most pressing issues in public health practice, and we’ve followed them through the period of 25 years. For example, we’ve had four or five issues on public health accreditation. We’ve had probably six issues on public health preparedness. We’ve had a number of issues on public health workforce, including the two recent issues we’ve had — the two [Public Health] Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), [one which] just published in the last year. We’ve had issues on quality improvement. So we’ve really captured progress in public health practice, and I believe we have contributed to that progress by making these advances known to the practice community. And by the practice community, I mean public health workers both at the local level, the state level, and the federal level, specifically the Centers for Disease Control. And over the years, there have been a number of people in academia who’ve been interested in public health practice, and they’ve become major contributors to the journal. An example of that are the articles and the special issue we have done on academic health departments

JPHMP Direct: Yeah, you mention the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey, which is put together by the de Beaumont Foundation. Can you speak a little bit to the issue of the public health workforce undergoing this critical demographic shift that’s taking place and how that may compromise population health? And what role, if any, do you feel the journal plays in helping to assure that the future workforce will be able to meet challenges that may lie ahead?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: Well, the issues that we have published on workforce, including the most recent supplement issue, WINS, in March of this year, which described data that was collected during the 2017 Workforce Interests and Needs Survey, sort of outlines the aging of the workforce and the incentives people have to stay in public health. It also looks at the various demographic characteristics of the workforce, and also the role of gender in the workforce. These factors are very important to the further strengthening of the workforce. These issues also explore what training is needed for the future of the public health. The public health workforce is the key element of public health infrastructure.

JPHMP Direct: Can you talk a little about what makes the journal a relevant resource for public health researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in the next five, ten, fifteen year?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: I think the same thing that has been present for the last 25 years. We set out with the idea of bringing public health advances in policy and practice both to a practitioner audience and to an academic audience. And in the next five years, we will be doing the same. The constellation of issues has both remained the same and has also changed. We’re trying to get more articles on, for example, opioid use, substance abuse. We’d like to get more articles on violence. We’ve done a supplement recently with CDC on violence. We’d like to get more articles on gun violence. So where the issues are in public health, we intend to capture them. We want to follow the progress of accreditation, which has been a major, groundbreaking movement in public health, one that we have documented from its early inception to the present, and we will continue to do that in the future. 

JPHMP Direct: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Would you like to maybe give us a preview of some of the upcoming issues that are in the works?

Dr. Lloyd Novick: Well, we have a very exciting issue that’s coming out in July title Investment in Population Health. We’re working a lot with the Trust for America’s Health, and the issue is led off by a commentary by Adam Lustig of the Trust for America’s Health. It talks about how important cross-sector collaborations, like the design of communities, are, and the contributions of policy and other sectors are to public health. It focuses on social determinants. Also in that issue we have a large series of articles on hospitals’ community benefit expenditures, and how these benefit expenditures improve public health and link to public health outcomes. We also have some very interesting articles in the issue on substance abuse. We have an article from Erika Martin, one of our newer editorial board members, on an opioid dashboard, in which she talks about how data can be used by various communities to show the extent of the problem. She gives ten lessons or recommendations for using that data. Also, we have a case study in the journal. Case study is one of our newer formats. These are narratives or stories in public health. This story is about a public health state health director, Danny Staley, and his role in instituting a safe syringe exchange program in North Carolina, a fascinating story. We have published a number of these case stories in the journal and will continue to do so in the future. We have two more in the hopper right now. This is an area we want to emphasize because it’s so key for training not only of state health directors but training of public health workers. (See also “Backstories in Epidemiology.“)

JPHMP Direct: It sounds like a really exciting and quite large issue that’ll be coming out in July, so that’s a lot to look forward to.

Dr. Lloyd Novick: And those are the kind of issues that we will have in the coming five years, so stay tuned. Also, I’d like to compliment the journal staff for its work on JPHMP Direct, which is an online blog that’s connected to the journal that really furthers our efforts and our goals of showing what’s going on in public health practice, what are the latest advances.

JPHMP Direct: Well, thank you for saying that, and thank you for taking time to talk with me today, Dr. Novick. We really appreciate hearing from you and sharing info about the journal, so thank you very much.

Sheryl Monks, MFA, is the Editorial Associate of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. Since joining JPHMP in March 2016, she has worked closely with the editorial staff to improve visibility, reach, impact, and reader engagement with the Journal. To that end, she has helped to develop JPHMP Direct, an online community for advances in public health. She is a graduate of Queens University of Charlotte and holds an MFA in writing as well as a BA in English.


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