Interview: Sandra Schoenfisch, R.N., Ph.D.

We interviewed nursing consultant, Sandra Schoenfisch, R.N., Ph.D., to find out more about succeeding in today’s world as a public health professional. Working with Florida’s Bureau of Preparedness and Response, she offers greater insights regarding the roles and issues surrounding nursing practice, especially when it comes to preparedness planning and response responsibilities.

“Everyone needs to have a personal preparedness plan,” she says. For public health professionals and OMP participants, this advice should come as no surprise. Yet, 51% of the U.S. population still does not have a preparedness plan. “Preparedness is part of the new normal, not something that only happens during hurricane season or a single event,” says Schoenfisch. “Being prepared has implications for all programs and divisions.”

TIP: Part of the mentorship experience should include learning more about your role in preparedness and response. Discussions may lead to greater development of your professional development action plan, too (PDAP).

When asked about the ‘must-have’ skills worth having in order to succeed in her department, Schoenfisch simply states, “Curiosity, the ability to synthesize information, a desire to learn, adaptability, flexibility, common sense, nimble thinking, and a sense of humor.” The mentorship experience is designed to help participants learn about the “unwritten” rules of a department or organization. Sometimes having hands-on experience or shadowing a professional can prove meaningful when seeing how different roles, entities, issues are inter-connected.

From Craig Fugate’s (FEMA) Twitter Feed

Part of preparedness also includes being ‘prepared’ for a successful career. Knowing about trending topics in your field is one way to get ahead of the curve and address future issues early. Currently in the area of preparedness and response, many discussions surrounding social media, its implications and uses (both positively and negatively) are ‘hot topics’. Schoenfisch also adds to the list “emerging health problems, needs of people during events, and Functional Needs Shelter Services.”

A big thanks to Sandra Schoenfisch for her tips and advice. Click here to learn more about Florida’s Bureau of Preparedness and Response.

If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator


OMP Update: USF Health Learn

A few participants have asked about accessing professional development courses offered by the Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice (CLPHP) – click HERE to view their full listing. All courses are currently hosted on the campus learning management system called USF Health Learn.

All online CLPHP courses are free and have open-enrollment. However, you must have a USF Health Learn account to register. If you have USF Health email (i.e. an address ending with you can access USF Health Learn courses with your current username/password.

On June 2, our IT team updated the system so OMP participants could access USF Health Learn courses using their same username and password (and vice versa)! While this change makes for a more seamless transition between platforms, those who registered for the program BEFORE JUNE 2 using a non-USF Health email address (i.e.,,, etc.) will need to re-verify their accounts.

An email should have prompted you to re-register in the new system to access your accounts. If you find you are unable to log into OMP Portal or USF Health Learn or did not receive the verification email from the system – please contact directly.

If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator

Volunteer this Year!

Several program participants are listing “secure a volunteer opportunity” as one of their goals in their Professional Development Action Plans (PDAP). Given the economy and budget cuts impacting public health organizations and county health departments, volunteering is a great way to help the organizations and agencies achieve success when they are short on staff. It’s also a perfect opportunity to cultivate your own professional skills.

Many different volunteer opportunities exist within your community. Hospitals, community health organizations and non-profits are a great place to start looking (check with their human resources department to learn about any opportunities). Also, check out, a website that “connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.”

Public health organizations at your local or state county health departments typically have resources to help professionals find volunteer work. For instance, the Florida Department of Health lists information about their volunteer programs HERE. This site will help you find the name and contact information of the person with whom you’ll need to contact for your specific region. Also, keep in mind that each county health department has its own protocols on their volunteer programs (and some are more active than others).

You can also find public health volunteer opportunities within other nationally recognized organizations (some of which have local chapters) such as, American Red Cross or Medical Reserve Corps. And, of course, there are a few global volunteer agencies that need international volunteers. Check out this site for more on national and global opportunities.

If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator