An Examination of the Self-directed Online Leadership Learning Choices of Public Health Professionals: The Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute Experience

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To assess the self-selected asynchronous leadership module-based learning choices of public health professionals participating in the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH PHLI).


Online module completion and evaluation data were used to determine the topics most utilized by the Fellows; whether the topics and mode of training were acceptable, relevant, and practical; and whether participant characteristics explained any usage patterns.


A total of 109 enrolled Fellows in the MCH PHLI program.

Main Outcome Measures:

Module frequency of selection by Fellows; Fellows' rating scores in regard to relevance, practicality, and acceptability of module topics.


All program titles were highly rated. The 5 most frequently selected module topics were employee engagement (87.2%), talent acquisition strategies (84.4%), employee motivation (79.8%), emotional intelligence (78.9%), and workforce development strategies (68.8%). The least accessed topics focused on cultural competence (15.6%), social marketing (25.7%), effective communication and advocacy (25.7%), family partnerships (25.9%), and creating learning organizations (31.2%). All module topics provided were rated as relevant, practical, and acceptable to these public health leaders.


Self-directed computer-based learning was rated strongly by the MCH public health leaders in this study. Such an approach can be used to customize training to individual needs and interests. These findings suggest that inclusion of skills that enable public health leaders to effectively work with and through others was of core interest in the MCH PHLI. The finding of higher usage of topics related to workforce management can provide guidance for those developing leadership development programs for maternal and child health professionals. In addition, leadership needs and interests should be assessed regularly to ensure that competency-based leadership development guidelines are adapting to the evolving and complex challenges faced by leaders. While these results were tested in MCH professionals, they may be generalizable to other disciplines within the field of public health.

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