This past year, the public health workforce has faced immense challenges that illuminate how the health of the public is deeply connected to our economy, education system, social support systems, and much more. And now more than ever, the workforce must be equipped with skills that span public health disciplines and increase the scope of the field. A new report from the de Beaumont Foundation, “Adapting and Aligning Public Health Strategic Skills”, updates and aligns skills that were identified by the National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development in the 2017 report, “Building Skills for a More Strategic Public Health Workforce: A Call to Action.”
“Now is a critical time to ensure that the skills of public health practitioners are up to date and reflect current needs,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our resolve, but the public health workforce is resilient. This report can help united the field in our shared goal to protect, promote, and advocate for health equity.” To create these renewed Strategic Skills, the de Beaumont Foundation compared the original list with the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) instrument and other widely accepted public health curricula, skills, and competency sets, such as the Council on Linkages Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals. External stakeholder were then engaged for guidance and recommendations. This report presents refreshed definitions for the Strategic Skills and a crosswalk of these renewed Strategic Skills and the Core Competencies.
“By aligning the Strategic Skills with the Core Competencies, public health practitioners and educators will have a much clearer picture of the competencies necessary to build specific skills,” said Ron Bialek, MPP, President of the Public Health Foundation. “Seeing how these frameworks align will be helpful to educators and practitioners as efforts continue to build the public health workforce pipeline and strengthen the skills of our current workforce.”
Using the Strategic Skills framework as a basis for workforce development, all public health professionals working to advance the 10 Essential Public Health Services and Foundational Public Health Services, regardless of discipline, focus area, or supervisory level, can learn to:
- think strategically and systematically;
- manage change and resources;
- communicate effectively;
- create action from data;
- engage with the communities they serve;
- influence policy;
- form cross-sector partnerships; and
- strive for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Highlighting the overlaps and differences among skills frameworks will aid schools of public health; public health training centers; nonprofit organizations; federal, state, city, local, and Tribal health departments; and individual public health practitioners in focusing their learning and development plans to respond to evolving challenges.
“While public health practice can and should be tailored to local context and need, having national-level frameworks that all practitioners can use helps to ensure that we are all moving in the same direction, working to serve communities and advance equity,” said Jessica Solomon Fisher, MCP, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Public Health Accreditation Board. “The 10 Essential Public Health Services, Strategic Skills, and Core Competencies all speak to and support the importance of the public health workforce and the skills, partnerships, and services that practitioners need to embody to serve as strategists, experts, and participants in working with communities to improve health and well-being for all.”
Adoption of the Strategic Skills will require a coordinated effort by public health agencies, funders, affiliate organizations, and training developers. By prioritizing the Strategic Skills in workforce development, taking actionable steps to adopt the Strategic Skill framework throughout the field, and building on the achievements that have already been made, practitioners and partners can foster a strong, able, and smart public health workforce that achieves the best possible health across communities.
Learn more at debeaumont.org/strategic-skills.