Author Archives: nacchovoice

Teaching Public Health Practice for Non-Practitioners

By Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, Journal of Public Health Management & Practice

The Scholarship of Public Health is a blog series from the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice that addresses topics relevant to scientific publishing, dissemination of evidence and best practices, and the education of current and future professionals. This column presents some considerations and best practices for finding time to produce scholarship in the form of a manuscript or presentation.

Most masters of public health (MPH) graduates who remain in public health will become practitioners rather than researchers. Most tenure-track faculty are hired and retained for their research acumen, especially those in medical schools and schools of public health. As such, one of the conundrums that faces faculty members in public health programs is how to best prepare future public health practitioners for careers if they’ve never been practitioners themselves. This was a challenge I faced personally when I joined the faculty of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in 2006 as we started a new department and a MPH program. At the time, I had a history of working for community-based organizations in college, which included a very brief stint at a local American Red Cross branch, but I had no real experience in public health practice. Fortunately, I had actively engaged with practitioners in my research and service work throughout my (at the time) short career, so I had an appreciation for the skills they utilized and, most importantly, prized in their employees. I was even more fortunate to have a department chair (Lloyd Novick), who had spent his distinguished career as a practitioner. His guidance in establishing the department and curriculum was invaluable, but the teaching conundrum still fell to me to solve. What I learned during my time tackling that challenge is twofold: 1) you cannot run away from your deficiency and just teach what you know if you’re going to produce graduates who are prepared for the practice world, and 2) you cannot do it alone (ie, it takes a team).

It can often be daunting to teach topics that you don’t have direct experience conducting. Unfortunately, the broad array of skills and competencies a public health graduate student must master places faculty in this position regularly. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies available to faculty to address their shortcomings, which can enhance the student experience and reduce stress on the faculty member. One strategy is most obvious; bring in guest speakers. This strategy works well for those faculty who do community-engaged work that can foster a large professional network. It may be more challenging for those faculty who don’t work in the community. Another downside can be that scheduling is challenging, and topical expertise can be relatively narrow. For example, I’ve spent much of my career conducting epidemiological or intervention work for the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating. As such, most of my professional contacts aren’t going to be able to speak on communicable disease, public health administration, injury prevention, or most other topics outside of those that are the focus of my work. As such, a more systematic approach might be preferable.

The Academic Health Department might provide a better solution for bringing practitioners and their expertise into the classroom. An Academic Health Department is a concept similar to the teaching hospital and is based on a formal agreement between a local health department and an academic institution promoted by the Public Health Foundation via the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice. One relevant feature is the joint appointment of faculty from the health department (jointly funded) who can team-teach courses or who can make scheduled, regular appearances in courses as part of a systematic exposure of students to topics and experts that can enrich the educational experience. An addition benefit can be the formal involvement of faculty in health department activities that can provide the practical experience that traditional academic faculty often lack. Other involvement by health department-affiliated faculty can be review of syllabi and academic programs and assessments to ensure that students are being prepared in ways that reflect the workforce needs and expectations. This joint participation in the preparation of future practitioners can solve the faculty conundrum and improve the quality of education and training for the next generation of public health practitioners. I would encourage anyone who works in an academic public health program to review the core concepts of the Academic Health Department, and consider if your program is ready and able to form a beneficial partnership that can benefit faculty, students, and practitioners alike.

You can find more blog posts like this on the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice’s website

Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine of the Wake Forest School of Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Follow him at Twitter and Instagram. [Full Bio]

On the Front Lines of an Epidemic: Public Health Workforce Initiative Jumpstarts an Opioids Response Project

By Laura H. Franzke, PhD, MPH Population Health Workforce Branch, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, CSELS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Judith C. Shlay, MD, MSPH, Associate Director, Denver Public Health

If war is ultimately about people, then the opioid epidemic is indeed a war. In the confused geography of war, there are battles lost, skirmishes won, stalemates, and retrenchments. The opioid epidemic has claimed thousands of lives and engulfed entire communities, yet often feels too monumental to be seen as anything other than relentless and unending. The continuous unfolding story of a crisis and the response, however, must also include some promise of hope: what’s working, what may work if we scale it up, and what adequately funded interventions look like. Continue reading

Global Climate Change in Your Community: Take Action Now

By Grace McClain, Program Analyst, NACCHO

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements blog.

Global climate change may seem like a public health threat of the future, but many communities in the United States are feeling the health impacts of climate change today. Both geological and medical sciences have linked climate change to extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires, hotter temperatures, and a wider distribution of vector-borne diseases. Public health professionals need to brace themselves for a continued and escalating response on these fronts. Continue reading

Results from NACCHO’s 2018 Member Satisfaction Survey

Earlier this year, NACCHO launched the Member Satisfaction Survey in support of our commitment to continuous quality improvement. Nearly 450 members responded to the survey to share their perspectives about the ways in which NACCHO can continue working toward our vision of optimal health, equity, and security for all people in all communities. Results from the survey found that NACCHO has been a valuable resource for local health departments nationwide. Three highlights from the survey findings include: Continue reading

Member Spotlight: Health Director Scott Sjoquist Discusses the Development of the Mohegan Tribe Health Department and Challenges Dispelling Public Health Inaccuracies

Interview by Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO’s Member Spotlight series features interviews with local health department leaders and staff about their careers in public health. This interview features Scott Sjoquist, MS, RS, Health Director of the Mohegan Tribal Health Department in Connecticut. Below he shares how public health mandates have changed over the years to keep communities safe and how the advancement of technology can still be a challenge for public health officials when dispelling inaccuracies and educating the public. Continue reading

NACCHO, ASTHO, and the Surgeon General: Partnering to Build Healthier, More Resilient Communities

By Kevin G. Sumner, MPH, NACCHO President and Health Officer and Director of the Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission in Green Brook, New Jersey

This year, NACCHO is collaborating with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General on the ASTHO President’s Challenge. ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, and I have united to call on state, territorial, local, and tribal health officials to build healthier, more resilient communities by supporting investments in community-led, place-based approaches. The challenge has two specific goals: (1) equipping health officials to mobilize community-led, place-based collectives focused on measurable outcomes to build stronger communities; and (2) connecting public health officials, and their communities, to business leaders and policymakers who want to invest in these community-led, place-based approaches and advance economic development by reaching across sectors. Continue reading