Any plan to ensure strategic sustainability must include how to support the people who do the work of public health. Staff recruitment and retention has become a widespread challenge in health departments, often for reasons beyond staff control. Developing and increasing skills among existing staff is also a crucial component of workforce development to support data modernization and also has challenges. Actions to take to ensure a skilled and effective workforce include:
Review and update job classifications. Do current classifications and job descriptions match the demands of the data management work being done and where the health department wants to go? Nearly every position in public health involves working with data, and therefore requires informatics skills and knowledge. Making such expectations clear in the job descriptions is a foundational step in ensuring effective workforce development strategies to aid in hiring, training and retention.
Training plans. While training for the public health workforce is still limited, it is growing: CDC’s TRAIN, CSTE’s Learn, the Public Health Learning Network. Using massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as Coursera and edX is extremely beneficial for data modernization-related skills because DMI is rapidly evolving and thus the skills are always changing. MOOCs do not have a limit on participation and have the ability to set up training plans specific to staff at the health department. Additionally, a great deal of applied learning can also be provided through peer-to-peer learning. These can be organized through semi-formal structures such as peer user groups, lunch-n’-learns, software super users and other means. Peer-to-peer learning opportunities not only encourage learning, but also build staff skills, both of which can increase job satisfaction. Continuing education opportunities should be made available to all members of the data modernization team, relevant to their role.
Resource: Informatics workforce position classifications and descriptions
This resource was created to provide examples of informatics skills to include within job descriptions. These can be adapted based on the needs of the health department.
TRAIN is a learning network that provides quality training opportunities for staff who work in the public health sector. Affiliates work to coordinate and share workforce training efforts and post content from their own public health departments which can be leveraged by other jurisdictions’ public health staff.
Provided by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), this website offers interactive online courses, resource libraries and community groups to connect with staff all over the world.
Resource: Public Health Learning Network
This network includes university-based regional public health training for the public health workforce to gain skills-based training needed to do their work. Created by the National Network of Public Health Institutes as the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training, the courses are created by public health educators, practitioners and thought leaders.