Category Archives: general

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]

A Note to Our Members on Public Health Thank You Day

Dear NACCHO members,

In honor of Public Health Thank You Day, I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you and your health departments for all that you do to protect and promote the health and resiliency of your communities every day.

The work of local public health is challenging; local health departments confront a range of multifaceted public health issues—everything from infectious disease outbreaks to natural disasters—while providing the indispensable foundational services that enable communities to thrive. This work is often underappreciated and underfunded. Continue reading

Fostering Agency Through Local Public Health

By Grenadier, Andrea, BA; Holtgrave, Peter, MPH, MA; Aldridge, Chris, MSW, NACCHO

This article originally ran in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

When public health departments support all aspects of the public’s well-being—beginning with striking at the roots of health inequity—it can create transformational change. Part of this process is encouraging people in communities to determine their own futures, to express agency; something that is rooted in action and power. So, how does local public health get there? Continue reading

Using Disease Intervention Specialists to Improve Linkages and Access to Care

By Carolyn Campbell, Anne Arundel County (MD) Health Department

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Stories from the Field.

Fifty-percent of people in the United States who are living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) reside in twelve of the nation’s cities. Frequently listed among the top six of these high-morbidity cities are Baltimore and Washington, DC. Anne Arundel County in Maryland is located immediately south of Baltimore, directly east of Washington, DC, and houses the state capital, Annapolis. Maryland ranked third in the United States for HIV diagnoses rates in 2013, and Anne Arundel County ranked fifth among Maryland jurisdictions for percentage of total newly diagnosed HIV cases. In addition, the county has the fourth highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections in Maryland. Anne Arundel is similar to many other counties in Maryland in its proximity to both Baltimore and Washington, DC and in its combination of residents– mixing rural, suburban, and urban populations and having a wide range of income levels. Continue reading

World AIDS Day 2016: Local Health Department Leadership, Commitment, and Impact

By Alyssa Kitlas, HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis Program Analyst, NACCHO 

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

The U.S. Government theme for World AIDS Day 2016 is “Leadership. Commitment. Impact.” These themes resonate strongly with the work local health departments (LHDs) do every day to address HIV in their communities.

LHDs are key leaders in providing and assuring access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment for the communities they serve. As community health strategists, LHDs facilitate collaboration between public health, healthcare, social services, and other key stakeholders, such as community organizations and small businesses, to achieve more integrated and effective systems for HIV prevention and care. Over the past few years, this leadership and collaborative work with community partners has led to the successful development of local and state plans for ending the HIV epidemic, such as those for Fulton County (GA), San Francisco (CA), Houston (TX), and the State of New York. The value of health department leadership for reducing new HIV infections and improving outcomes across the HIV care continuum was highlighted in a recent study to generate hypotheses to explain declines in HIV incidence in Massachusetts, North Carolina, San Francisco, and Seattle. Researchers found that the most unifying observation was that leadership within health departments is critical to achieving success. Continue reading

Parents Need Support to Prevent Youth Violence

By Alyssa Banks, Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, Minnesota

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Stories from the Field.

Parent support group programs can be an effective strategy to teach caregivers necessary skills to better parent at-risk youth. Poor parenting can have many negative effects on families and children. For example, it can create a lack of communication in families and thus letting the children go down a path that is self-destructive or involved with violence. The Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support has supported many parent support group programs through the City’s Blueprint for Action to Prevent Youth Violence initiative. These programs aim to strengthen families and help parents and caregivers to provide the best environment for healthy youth development. The programs are also particularly effective because they are culturally specific and focus on the unique needs of each community. Continue reading

Local Health Departments Mark National Public Health Week 2016 and Look Ahead to 2030

3535. NPHW webThe following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog.For more information about environmental health and infectious disease, visit http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.

During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW) as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. This year, NPHW is April 4–10 and the theme is “Healthiest Nation 2030.”

Today, Americans are living 20 years longer than their grandparents’ generations, yet more work is needed to promote optimal conditions that will give everyone the opportunity to be healthy in 2030 and beyond. NPHW 2016 highlights the need to build safe, healthy communities with a foundation of social justice for all, in addition to providing access to quality healthcare. This week also emphasizes factors beyond traditional health, such as how at least a high school education allows people to have increased opportunities to earn a livable wage and have improved access to safe, healthy food. In addition, protecting our work, school, and home environments has a profound impact on our health. Together, these conditions set the stage for a healthier nation in just 14 years, if we work to prioritize them.

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