We reached out to Mike McHargue, Director of Public Health & Medical Planning and Response at the Bureau of Preparedness and Response, to get his thoughts on the future of the public health workforce and ways our FPHTC Online Mentor Program participants can prepare for a successful career in emergency management.
“Retaining our human resources is critical to sustaining public health preparedness and leadership,” says McHargue, who supports both formal and informal mentoring. He knows first-hand the challenges that come with sustaining a preparedness and response knowledge base, especially during times of budgets cuts and staff reductions. “Many of the public health pioneers that established current programs have moved on to new endeavors or retired and took critical knowledge and skills with them.”
McHargue is responsible for implementing Health and Medical preparedness capabilities during emergencies and coordinating the ESF8 (Health and Medical) support activities within the established emergency response systems with local, state, and federal partners. “At the State ESF 8 level, we provide planning, training, and exercise support to train and develop current and future practitioners and leaders for local County Health Departments and the Department of Health,” he says.
Mentees who are looking to gain employment in preparedness and response positions should have a range of capabilities – from public health knowledge and clinical skills to emergency management experience. Of course, formal training in Basic National Incident Management System (NIMS) for ICS 100, 200, 700, and 800 are required pre-requisites. McHargue believes that a combination of these skills among their total staff is vital to effective preparedness and response planning and implementation.
“We also seek out [professionals] who are flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances, are available to work altered work schedules, are available to deploy to the field, and demonstrate their ability to collaborate with diverse groups for planning and response activities,” he says.
A big thanks to Mike McHargue for his insights. 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@health.usf.edu.