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: https://www.coursera.org/course/publichealth

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.

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10 Essential Services: Test Your Knowledge!

If you recall your public health history, you will remember that in 1988, the Institute of Medicine published a report on the “Future of Public Health” which identified the three (3) core functions of public health:

  • assessment
  • policy development
  • assurance

At that time, this was a solid starting point to describing public health. But as the country explored issues related to health care reform, a better definition and description was needed. In 1994 a “Core Functions of Public Health Steering Committee” (made up of US Public Health Service agencies and other major public health organizations) convened and expanded these functions to include the 10 Essential Services in Public Health (CDC):

  1. Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
  2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
  4. Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems.
  5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
  8. Assure competent public and personal health care workforce.
  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

For public health professionals and students, these 10 Essential Services provide a working definition of public health and a guiding framework for the responsibilities of local, state and national public health systems.

So, how well do you know the 10 essential services in public health?

Why not test your knowledge and rate your expertise? (C’mon, it’ll be fun! We promise it will be less than 10 minutes and totally anonymous, too! Did we mention it will be fun?)

  • Click HERE to test your knowledge!

For more information about 10 Essential Services in Public Health, check out:

10 Essential Services: Florida’s Continuing Legacy

The FPHTC Online Mentor Program launched in Florida to support Essential Services #8: “Assure competent public and personal health care workforce.”

Every day, our Program Coordinators work closely with the Office of Workforce Development at the Florida Department of Health to ensure that the Online Mentor Program helps to meet their growing workforce demands in the state of Florida. In collaboration, they help to ensure that their employees continue to evolve in their roles in ways that support the 10 Essential Services of Public Health.

“I am a firm believer in ‘Each One Teach One’ philosophy,” says LaTonya Thomas, Government Analyst for the Office of Performance and Quality Improvement, Workforce Development at Florida Department of Health. “With today’s ever-shrinking job market, and even more shrinkage within our public health workforce, it is imperative that we take a few moments to reach back AND give back or ‘share’ with the emerging public health workforce and leaders.”

The video below is a wonderful example from the Florida Department of Health of how public health professionals in Florida continue to provide all 10 Essential Services in public health:

For more information about 10 Essential Services in Public Health, check out:

Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goal-setting is important in all aspects of your job in public health. Whether you want to accomplish a specific task or achieve a milestone in your professional career, goals pave your path to your getting there.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym often used in goal-setting to help identify key information required to keep your goal specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

All OMP participants must create a Professional Development Action Plan (PDAP) or Employee Development Plan (EDP). These plans often ask you to list various short- and long-term career goals. Read on to gain tips on writing S.M.A.R.T. goals in public health.

Photo Credit: LuluLemon Athletica

SPECIFIC: Your goals have to be clear and unambiguous. To make a goal specific, you must articulate exactly what is expected, why it is important, who is involved, where it is going to happen, and which attributes are important to achieve your goal.

Poor Example: “I would like to complete some professional development.”

A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose, or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location, if applicable.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Better Example: “I would like to complete 3 hours of professional development training from a course listed in the TRAIN Florida system in order to stay current and maintain credibility in my job.”

MEASURABLE: Having concrete criteria to measure progress helps to quantify or qualify attainment. How else will you be able to stay on track, reach target dates, or experience the exhilaration of achievement?

Poor Example: “I would like to increase my professional network.”

A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Better Example: “I would like to meet one new person in my department per week until I know everyone by name.”

ATTAINABLE: Goals should be reasonable. Although goals may be challenging and may require you to develop your attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity in order to reach them, they should not seem extreme.

An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

  • How: How can the goal be accomplished?

RELEVANT: You must stress the goals that matter to your professional development. You may want to sky dive, lose weight, or learn to play the piano — but are these goals relevant to your professional career? Mentors can be very helpful in determining goals that are relevant to your industry, your current or future boss, team, or organization.

A relevant goal can meet these criteria:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this goal match my other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person to accomplish this goal?

TIME-SPECIFIC: Grounding goals within a time frame by giving them a target date is part of your commitment to a deadline. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Mentees should consider reviewing their PDAP or EDP in your mentor-mentee meetings. Mentors should follow help mentees design S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Parts of this post was adapted from “SMART Criteria” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria

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.