Public Health Professionals Use Prioritization Matrix to Focus Competency Development Efforts
A new white paper, How to Focus Your Training and Professional Development Efforts to Improve the Skills of Your Public Health Organization
, describes a series of workshops on prioritizing competency development efforts. In the last half of 2011, staff from the Public Health Foundation presented at the annual meetings of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Association of Local Boards of Health, and the American Public Health Association, demonstrating how public health organizations can use a prioritization matrix to aid their professional development efforts.
During the workshops, participants were introduced to the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals
(Core Competencies) and the prioritization matrix, a quality improvement (QI) tool that facilitates pair-wise comparisons between competency domains to determine which are most important in supporting an organization’s mission. Participants were divided into small groups according to the type of organization they represented: state and local health departments, local boards of health, academic institutions, or not-for-profit organizations. These groups each completed a prioritization matrix using the criteria, “Given the realities – economic, organizational, and political – of today, on what Core Competencies domains would you focus your limited resources for training and professional development to improve your public health organization’s overall skill level?”
Domains chosen varied by participants’ work settings. Public health professionals working in state and local health departments and not-for-profit organizations ranked Financial Planning and Management Skills as their top priority, followed by Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills. Professionals working in academic institutions also valued Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills, ranking them second only to Community Dimensions of Practice Skills. The top competencies domains named by members of local boards of health – Policy Development/Program Planning Skills and Communication Skills – differed from those of the other types of organizations, but were similar to an earlier ranking conducted by a state health governance body. These workshops highlighted the value of the prioritization matrix for prioritizing the domains of the Core Competencies based on organizational goals. This QI tool, along with the radar chart and matrix diagram, is available in the 3-Step Competency Prioritization Sequence
, which can be used by any public health organization to focus its workforce development activities.