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Kate Nicholson: Integrating the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals into Workforce Development Initiatives

Date: 8/3/2011 4:07 PM

Related Categories: Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Topic: Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Tag: Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals, Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Kate Nicholson, MA, Program Manager, Indiana Public Health Training Center (IPHTC), Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Public Health

For the past decade, the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Public Health’s 25-member agency training center Advisory Board determined that the Council on Linkage’s Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (Core Competencies) should be the basis of our training portfolio.  Since becoming a Public Health Training Center in 2010, IPHTC continues to use the Core Competencies as the foundation for helping Indiana’s public health professionals develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to succeed.  We have found the Core Competencies are extremely valuable to not only assess the workforce, but as a planning tool for distance and live educational programs as well.
Fully integrating the Core Competencies into all our projects is a work in progress.  It’s certainly not as simple as just listing them on a website.  It takes time to educate professionals, build into needs assessments with this focus, and organize programs that meet the needs of our professionals related to the Core Competencies.  However, we believe the Core Competencies are the tools we need to best assist our workforce and this is well worth the investment of our time and effort.
In 2008, we began using the Core Competencies as the basis for our needs assessments.  Our first attempts, based on the University of North Carolina’s work, were time consuming and return rates were rather low.  However, in our most recent attempt, we found a better system: we survey twice a year on half of the Core Competencies.  This gave us a higher return rate and better data.
This graphic shows a mandatory question on Tier selection.  The ability to stratify data based on the tiered approach gives us better data to target specific needs in the full continuum of job positions.
The graphic below shows a sample question.  The questions help us determine training gaps.  Not only do we find what people are interested in, but we can determine the importance of specific job skills.  
We are in the process of developing a self assessment program that allows professionals to assess themselves domain by domain.
Results can then be shared on social media sites, emailed, or printed.  IPHTC will also be able to offer suggestions on upcoming courses, websites, organizations, and other resources that can help strengthen the user’s skills in each domain.
We’re also integrating the Core Competencies into our agendas.  Below is a sample of what participants receive at a live program.  Not only does it include the agenda and objectives of the course, but also the corresponding competencies.
We have many more projects in the works, including a webpage focused on the Core Competencies (explanation, complete list, how to use, etc), inclusion in our new learning management system, and instruction of the Core Competencies as part of actual course material.   We continue to look for new and innovative approaches to add to these strategies.
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David Knapp


The TRAIN survey tool delivers the North Carolina self assessment very nicely with the added benefit of the courses in the system being aligned with core competencies. This will prove to be very useful for those surveyed in helping them find curriculum that meets the gaps identified through the self assesment process and placing those courses into an annual training plan all with next level supervision interaction and all of this process described leverages exiting tools in TRAIN. Accreditation team members are beginning to see the real value in the TRAIN Learning Management System.

Ron Bialek


This is an excellent example of how an academic institution can assist a health department with their workforce development efforts under the Domain 8 standards for national voluntary accreditation. In addition to the Public Health Training Center offering assistance with a health department's integration of Core Competencies into the agency, building a relationship like this also addresses requirements under Domain 10.

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