The leadership program prepares professionals to

July 27, 2022 – A program called “Advancing Leadership in Times of Crisis” (ALTC) has helped increase the leadership skills and knowledge of public health professionals in Puerto Rico – preparing them to adapt and respond to challenges posed by a series of health emergencies, reports a study in a supplement to the September/October issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (JPHMP). The journal is published in the Lippincott Portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

“[The] The ALTC program has been effective in increasing knowledge and understanding of leadership concepts in times of crisis,” according to the report by Raisa Ugarte, MA, of Impactivo, LLC, a health consulting firm in San Juan, PR. The special issue of JPHMP highlights the activities and innovations promoted by the Regional Public Health Training Centers (PHTCs) of the Health Resources & Services Administration. Additional documents are freely accessible on the JPHMP website.

PHTCs aim to “evolve and adapt” to the needs of public health personnel

In 2015, Impactivo developed the ALTC program for the Region 2 Public Health Training Center, under a subgrant from HRSA. The program was originally designed to provide public health officials with the skills needed to meet the challenges posed by a financial crisis in Puerto Rico.

Over the following years, ALTC evolved and changed in response to a series of public health emergencies, including the Zika outbreak in 2016 and Hurricanes Irma and María in 2018 and 2019. In response to COVID-19, the program has pivoted to a fully virtual and interactive system. learning format in 2020.

Built on key concepts of adaptive leadership and community organizing, the ALTC program in Spanish has been designed to provide “the opportunity for in-depth exploration of current leadership challenges and hands-on experience to enhance their effectiveness”, write Ms. Ugarte and her co-authors. The program included contextualized lectures presented by subject matter experts, reflective and networking activities, and group projects to practice leadership skills. Program content focused on providing essential public health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a focus on health equity.

From 2016 to 2019, the ALTC program was offered to a total of 82 public health professionals in four cohorts. Eighty percent of participants were women and 100% were Hispanic, “enabling underrepresented groups to achieve change.” The analysis included responses to a total of 343 evaluation surveys completed by participants.

Results showed “extremely high levels of satisfaction and benefit” with the leadership training provided by the TRTA program. Participants gave high marks for increased knowledge and understanding of the topic, applicability of concepts, clarity of presentation, and overall satisfaction. Participants in the virtual version of TRTA in 2021 provided similarly high scores in their assessments.

“Among program strengths, participants reported that the diversity of subject matter experts reflected the communities they served and the opportunity to develop their professional relationships with renowned public health leaders,” the researchers write. In a follow-up survey, 89% of participants said they were still working in public health and that ALTC content was relevant to their current role. This is a notable result for the retention and development of the public health workforce – an area with an “aging and shrinking workforce”.

The special supplement to JPHMP is dedicated to HRSA’s investment in public health through the PHTC program. Investing in training is critically important in public health – a field with no “singular career path” and “no standard training program”, according to an introduction by Sophia Russell, DM, MBA, RN, NE- BC and Paul Jung, MD, MPH, of HRSA’s Office of Health Workforce.

Other projects featured and discussed in the special supplement include PHTC involvement in workforce development, new leadership approaches, systems thinking and equity issues, and responses to COVID- 19. Drs. Russell and Jung conclude, “The need for a strong public health workforce will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic, and HRSA’s Public Health Training Center curriculum will continue to evolve and adapt. to the needs of the workforce, keeping the art of practice at the forefront of our training goals.”

Click here to read “HRSA’s Investment in Public Health Training Centers”

DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001489

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About Review of Public Health Management and Practice

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice publishes articles focused on practice and evidence-based public health research. The journal is a semi-monthly peer-reviewed publication guided by a multidisciplinary editorial board of administrators, practitioners, and scientists. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice publishes in a wide range of population health topics, including research to practice; emergency preparedness; bioterrorism; surveillance of infectious diseases; environmental health; community health assessment; chronic disease prevention and health promotion; and the links between teaching and practice.

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Kevin E. Boling