Building Capacity for Collective Action to Address Population Health Improvement Through Communities of Practice: A Distance-Based Education Pilot

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Abstract

Improving population health requires a comprehensive array of interventions across individual, organizational, and community levels. Integrating primary care and public health strategies through partnerships is one type of intervention. Workforce development can facilitate this type of integration; however, models and modalities of workforce training primarily focus on individual skill building and may not build the capacity needed for collective action. A collaborative and strategic learning approach, communities of practice, fosters primary care and public health integration to address population health. A Health Resources and Services Administration–funded multistate regional Public Health Training Center (PHTC), the Great Lakes PHTC, undertook an action learning process to develop and pilot a workforce development initiative to promote ongoing learning toward shared goals. Great Lakes PHTC facilitated 11 discussions throughout the region with a total of 100 participants from primary care and governmental public health communities to better understand perceptions, gaps, barriers, and opportunities for integration and training. Findings indicated that a regional, coordinated model to workforce development provided a process for improved, ongoing learning that uncovered gaps in adapting distance-based approaches that can be addressed in future programming efforts. In addition, the process revealed that addressing population health issues through integrated partnerships requires training beyond content and discipline that incorporates multiple modalities and models.

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