In this article, guest author Jimmy Johnson, Supply Chain Strengthening Advisor at University Research Co., LLC, shares key workforce development domains to improve health outcomes. Jimmy is an experienced supply chain professional in the healthcare and retail markets, both domestically and internationally. For 16 years he was director of supply chain management at Howard County General Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. He has also been an instructor at the Carey School of Business and is currently an associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Within public health, investing in a workforce development program is essential towards improving health outcomes within the communities that healthcare providers serve. Incorporating the following 12 workforce development domains can support the growth and development of public health workers to be flexible, agile and knowledgeable regarding diseases, environment and the community. Finally, a workforce development program enhances employer competitiveness and innovation while engaging future public health workers to enter the profession.
Workforce development within public health seeks to improve health outcomes by enhancing the training, skills and development of public health workers. This would include public health workers already in the workforce, as well as those job seekers considering public health as a career. Workforce development is a vital part of the healthcare delivery strategy towards ensuring quality care, delivering effective health treatments and building trust and loyalty within the communities served.
Within public health, there are 12 workforce development domains that focus on improving health outcomes by enhancing the training, skills, and performance of public health workers.
1. Analytical assessment
As public health demands more evidence-based solutions, having the ability and skills to collect, analyze, store and retrieve data are essential in responding to health trends, disasters and communicating with the community.
2. Communication skills
The ability to communicate by writing, speaking and translating documents for the public is a vital skill to help the community to stay up to date on health-related information.
3. Community relations
The ability to build relationships, develop community partnerships and embrace diverse cultural traditions is critical for building successful patient-provider relationships.
4. Cultural competency
A successful public health program is built on policies, programs and services that allow the workforce to engage with diverse populations, communicate with communities that speak different languages and accommodate cultural traditions and norms.
5. Financial management
The ability to source funding, as well as manage budgets, grants, contracts and business plans are essential workforce skills. These skills are necessary for forecasting financial obligations, meeting budgeted targets and delivering projects on time, within financial expectations.
This is one area where workforce development has a profound impact on developing leaders that can direct with limited supervision and build staff capacity while managing with compassion and empathy.
Workforce development focuses on the competencies related to planning, problem-solving, decision-making and development of resources at the organizational level. The ability to successfully plan, organize and lead has a considerable impact on the organization’s ability to perform within the community they serve.
8. System thinking
Workforce development emphasizes competencies involved with end-to-end processes by analyzing issues and figuring out ways to make improvements to the benefit of all within the organization and communities.
9. Policy development
The development and application of governmental policies, procedures, regulations and laws for the public health sector are critical to improving the health and safety of the communities in which public health professionals operate.
10. Program planning skills
Public health demands skills and competencies related to program evaluation, management and quality improvement that are consistent with public health laws, regulations and guidelines and enhance health-related services for the community.
11. Public health science
Workforce development focuses on skills that are essential for conducting effective research, analyzing data, presenting solutions and implementing the results within healthcare services, organizational policies and country programs.
12. Emergency preparedness and response
The ability to plan, prepare and respond to disasters, pandemics, epidemics and acts of nature are vital to assuring effective public health policies, procedures and guidelines.
Healthcare operational leaders are not interested in how to “get back to normal.” They are charting a new normal. Leaders are currently looking to:
- Prepare staff for a changing work environment
- Rapidly evolve patient-facing processes in a safe, efficient manner
- Address patient hesitancy proactively
- Rethink revenue management