The Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (Core Competencies) support state health departments across the country in their workforce development activities, and a report released this month by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) offers the most current insight into these activities.
The ASTHO Profile of State and Territorial Public Health, Volume Four shares results of the 2016 ASTHO Profile Survey, including information on state health department efforts to ensure staff workforce development opportunities. Seventy-six percent of state health departments reported having a workforce development plan to support core competency development among staff and address training needs, and the Core Competencies, a consensus set of skills for professionals working in public health, can form the foundation for such plans. All state health departments indicated being familiar with the Core Competencies, and few (18%) reported that these competencies have not been used within their organizations.
Through the ASTHO Profile, state health departments also shared the variety of ways in which they use the Core Competencies. The Core Competencies were most frequently mentioned in relation to training plans, with 72% of health departments reporting using the Core Competencies for developing these plans. Thirty-four percent use the Core Competencies in preparing job descriptions, making the Core Competencies the most likely of any of the competency sets studied to be used for this purpose, and smaller numbers of health departments reported using the Core Competencies for conducting performance evaluations (22%) and other uses (14%).
Source: ASTHO Profile of State and Territorial Public Health, Volume Four
Ensuring workforce development activities address the competencies needed by public health professionals is critical to building and maintaining a high performing workforce and a necessary step for health departments to be accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, which requires competency-based job descriptions and workforce development plans as part of the standards for accreditation. As a set of foundational skills for the broad practice of public health, the Core Competencies offer a nationally recognized resource for engaging in these activities, and the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice (Council on Linkages) continues to develop tools to support these efforts, including a new tool for prioritizing competencies for job descriptions and collections of examples of competency-based job descriptions and workforce development plans.
The ASTHO Profile of State and Territorial Public Health, Volume Four is the latest of three reports released this year illustrating the reach of the Core Competencies and the need for skills reflected in the Core Competencies within the public health community. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) released updated data on use of the Core Competencies by local health departments in its 2016 National Profile of Local Health Departments report, showing a rise in use of the Core Competencies to 45% of local health departments. This represents a 73% increase since NACCHO’s Profile study had last been conducted in 2013, and similar to the ASTHO data, usage was highest for assessing staff training needs and developing training plans. In addition, the de Beaumont Foundation and the National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development emphasized the need for strategic cross-cutting skills consistent with the Core Competencies with their publication of Building Skills for a More Strategic Public Health Workforce: A Call to Action.
Originally released by the Council on Linkages in 2001 and regularly revised since, the Core Competencies are available to support health departments, academic institutions, and other organizations in their efforts to provide quality workforce development opportunities for the public health community. To learn more about the Core Competencies, tools and resources to assist with implementation of these competencies, or distance and onsite technical assistance options related to the Core Competencies, visit www.phf.org/corecompetencies or contact Kathleen Amos at firstname.lastname@example.org.