An Evaluation of a Competency-Based Public Health Training Program for Public Health Professionals in Kansas

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Abstract

Context:

Less than one-third of the US public health workforce has formal training in public health. Academic-public health agency partnerships aimed at addressing the nation's workforce challenges have shown great promise.

Objective:

To evaluate the effectiveness of a piloted competency-based public health training program formed out of an academic-public health agency partnership.

Design:

Mixed-methods design using pre- and postworkshop surveys and quizzes, open-ended questions, and document review.

Setting:

Large, urban local health department located in south central Kansas.

Main Outcome Measures:

Participant satisfaction with training, knowledge change, self-report application of new knowledge, and organizational change.

Results:

Participants reported high satisfaction with the training program and valued the hands-on, practical approach used. Participation increased knowledge and confidence in public health competency areas covered in the program. At 3-month follow-up, 90% of participants reported applying new knowledge and skills in their primary job duties. At the organizational level, 3 major policy changes aimed at sustaining the program were implemented following its launch.

Conclusion:

Incorporating tailored, theory-driven approaches to trainings and collaborating with health department leadership to identify policy opportunities that help sustain the training program within the agency is recommended. Findings from this evaluation demonstrate the success of an academic-agency partnership's effort to develop and implement at a large, urban local health department.

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