Magazine article The Nation's Health

Strengthening Public Health Practice through Professional Development

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Strengthening Public Health Practice through Professional Development

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE KEY GOALS of APHA's revised strategic plan is to strengthen public health practice. To support this goal, APHA operates the Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems and Partnerships, which provides services to enhance competence and skills in public health practice, including continuing education. APHA's state and regional affiliated public health associations also provide professional development opportunities through webinars, annual meetings and academic partnerships.

Public health agencies share a responsibility for workforce development. Agencies seeking accreditation must "ensure a competent workforce through the assessment of staff competencies, the provision of individual training and professional development and the provision of a supportive work environment," according to a standard of the Public Health Accreditation Board, the body that accredits state and local health departments.

I'm encouraged that so many health agencies are moving toward this standard, but many agencies lack the capacity to address these needs, often due to a shortage in funding for training and conferences. When dollars are tight, employers must still provide a supportive work environment where employees are given time and opportunities to develop skills and competencies relevant to their current responsibilities. But what about your own career development?

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own career plan. You will need to embrace lifelong learning to ensure that your skills and knowledge keep you on top of your game. …

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