Magazine article The Nation's Health

More Than Just a Job: Public Health Is a Calling, Chance to Make an Impact

Magazine article The Nation's Health

More Than Just a Job: Public Health Is a Calling, Chance to Make an Impact

Article excerpt

The public health workforce at the local, state and national levels is facing many challenges. Adequate pay equity is one of them, but so is the availability and funding for competency-based training. We need support to translate public health workforce competencies into practice, particularly at the front-line worker level.

Recent policy and funding decisions have and will continue to have real consequences on our workforce, influencing salaries, certification, training and even morale and passion.

So, why do we do work that is often emotionally, socially and economically challenging? The answer for most is that it is more than just a job or a paycheck.

The Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey, administered by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the de Beaumont Foundation in 2015 and 2017, surveyed more than 10,000 public health workers, finding that only 48 percent of respondents were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the pay. However, 65 percent reported the same levels of satisfaction with their organization or place of employment and 79 percent reported overall job satisfaction.

Such data make it clear that public health workers see their field as a calling, a passion and, most importantly, a chance to make a change in the lives of people and society--a chance to make an impact.

In our current climate, making an impact means:

* focusing on retention and recruitment that involves development and capacity building for workers, which demonstrates they are valued;

* supporting equality and respect for diversity, such as values, beliefs and opinions;

* working to raise recognition and respect for public health through partners and volunteers;

* engaging the general public so that they own and take responsibility for supporting public health;

* recognizing that we are part of the communities in which we live and work; and

* making self-assessment that is linked to a high level of competence a critical part of our job description. …

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