OMP Update: New Feature for Mentees!

Photo Credit: Elvis Halilovic

Photo Credit: Elvis Halilovic

Over the past year we have received multiple email requests from mentees asking to be more proactive in pursuing their mentorships. Most were eager to be engaged but didn’t have a way to jump-start their experiences.

Some of the questions we received from mentees were:

  • “How come I can’t see my list of potential mentors?”
  • “How come I have to wait for a mentor to make me an offer?”
  • “Why can’t I make offers to mentors?”

Well, we heard your feedback and responded with exciting new changes!

As a mentee, now you can:

  • Review your list of potential mentors
  • ‘Make offers’ to mentors with whom you like to work

Previously, only mentors were allowed to review their lists of potential mentees and ‘make offers’. This put the responsibility of initiating mentorships solely on mentors. With the ratio of mentors-to-mentees at 3-to-1, this did not result in many new offers. Now, the system allows everyone to be proactive in pursuing their professional match, not just mentors.

In the real-world, those who take initiative see greater success. With these new features, mentees will have more control over their professional development.

If you have any other requests or ideas to improve the program to better meet your needs, email Program Coordinator at


Interview: Adam Yanckowitz

When it comes to emergency operations, specifically in meeting the public health and medical needs of a community during an emergency, Essential Support Function #8 (ESF-8) is vital. There are many public health and healthcare professionals whose expertise is called upon under ESF-8.

Photo Credit: US Aid

Photo Credit: US Aid

“I would say that ESF-8 is greater than a healthcare system,” says Adam Yanckowitz, Director of Office of Emergency Operations in FDOH Broward County Health Department. As the lead agency for ESF-8 at the state-level, the Florida Department of Health coordinates preparedness efforts statewide to assure the healthcare system is ready to respond when needed.

“It is more than just hurricane planning and response,” says Yanckowitz. The Office of Emergency Operations is the leader in public health response matters and works collaboratively with local, county, state, and federal agencies.

Less than 2% of all OMP participants list ’emergency response’ as one of their areas of interest. Yet, ESF-8 is comprised of public health professionals across a variety of fields, including (but not limited to) those in environmental health, epidemiology, ambulance deployment, hazardous materials responses, laboratory response network, fatality management, special needs shelters and so much more. “ESF-8 is the mechanism and coordination,” says Yanckowitz.

Having the skills and abilities that transfer across various departments and organizations can be essential to sustaining a long-term career in public health. For mentees in the program looking to work in or collaborate with emergency operations, Yanckowitz suggests having the following necessary skill sets:

Yanckowitz recognizes the challenges that come from growing leadership expertise within an organization, which is why he believes mentorship and leadership go “hand-in-hand.” “Under the direction of the mentor, the [mentee] is given immediate access to valuable insights and past experiences,” he says. “Individuals are learning by doing and are able to practice what they are learning.”

During a time in public health when organizations and county health departments struggle to keep staff and function within smaller budgets, mentorships can be helpful developing future leaders and sustaining the efforts of public health workers. “As staff retires and attrition occurs, the transfer of knowledge from mentor to mentee is critical,” says Yanckowitz. “In addition to managing and motivating people, it’s also important that mentors help others learn, grow and become more effective in their jobs.”

A big thanks to Adam Yanckowitz for his insights. Click here to learn more about the Office of Emergency Operations.

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

A Public Health Refresher Course

It is too easy to overlook a fundamental public health course, like “Principles of Public Health” when you have acquired the knowledge or surpassed the basics due to field experiences and other educational trainings.

Until now…

Photo Credit: U.S. FDA

Photo Credit: U.S. FDA

University of California, Irvine and Coursera have partnered to offer one of the largest online courses in public health. The course is absolutely FREE and has over 15,000 students enrolled from all over the world. This 5-week course (which began 1/28/2013) discusses everything from the definition of public health to the future of the industry.

So, why take the course?

  1. Everything is optional. You decide your time-commitment. One hour a week? Or 6 hours per week? Your choice. There is no attendance. Choose to watch a few lectures or passively follow discussion boards. Or, complete all the assignments, actively participate in the discussion threads and obtain the certificate of completion.
  2. Keep your finger on the industry pulse. You may have passed your Public Health 101 class in college, but that’s only ONE class, from ONE teacher, at ONE school, during ONE point in world’s history. Foundational principles may not have changed significantly, but their application may have changed dramatically. It may be worth enrolling just to see what industry topics are being discussed.
  3. Gain global perspective. Imagine engaging with students from all over the world and having conversations related to your field about topics that are relevant to you. The different student backgrounds and participant experiences may help you re-define or re-frame your own perspectives about public health … and possibly even enhance your career.
  4. Academic reality check. Professionals often wonder if academia aligns with the needs of their industry. Are they adequately preparing people to enter the field of public health or are topics out-dated or irrelevant? Well, here is your chance to find out. It’s also your chance to voice your opinion.
  5. Networking opportunities. You never know when you’ll find a group of peers or colleagues that could lead to future partnerships or potential collaborations. The mean age of a participant in these massive online courses is 35 years old. Many are just like you – working professionals who value life-long learning. They are smart, perceptive, and not always coming from a public health-related field (which can also broaden your perspective). Let’s just say, these may not be the typical 20-something college students from a freshman public health class.

The course is FREE and still open for enrollment (as of this posting). Check it out or register here:

NOTE to OMP PARTICIPANTS: This course counts towards your professional development hours. However, you must successfully pass and receive the completion certificate before posting your hours in your activity tracking log.