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Public Health Training Centers Recognized as Model Practices and Promising Practices
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 Public Health Training Centers (PHTC) program Model Practices and Promising Practices Series. The series originally began in 2012 with the recognition of promising practices and expanded in 2013 to recognize both model practices and promising practices. The series recognizes practices that advance one or more of the following PHTC legislative purposes: 1) establishing or strengthening field placements for students; 2) involving faculty members and students in collaborative projects to enhance public health services to medically underserved communities; 3) designating a geographic area or medically underserved population to be served; and 4) assessing the health personnel needs of the area.


The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health convened a distinguished group of faculty from schools and programs of public health to evaluate the applications through a fair, transparent, and objective process. The following criteria were critiqued for both types of practices: advancing one or more legislative purpose, responsiveness to the identified problem, innovation of the practice, collaboration with partners, impact of the practice, replicability of the practice among other PHTCs or organizations, and lessons learned. The distinguishing factor between model practices and promising practices was the level of evaluation for the respective practice. Whereas model practices are initiatives already implemented with proven positive outcomes, promising practices are initiatives that have not yet been fully evaluated to date, although show a strong likelihood of becoming a model practice in the future. In particular, model practices were critiqued on evaluation methods used to assess the practice, the results, and how the results of the evaluation have improved either the practice or the desired outcome. For promising practices, evaluation methods planned or initiated and how the results will be used to demonstrate an impact on the public health problem were critiqued.


The recognized model practices and promising practices showcase a wide variety of trainings and activities developed by the PHTCs to support local organizations and health departments. Topics include developing and evaluating training programs to meet the needs of the community, assisting local health departments prepare for accreditation, creating effective collaborative partnerships, establishing a high-quality experiential opportunity for graduate students, and identifying training needs of community health workers. Practices are designed to be replicated by other PHTCs or organizations.


Four PHTCs received recognition for their model practices.


  • The Northwest PHTC, housed at the University of Washington School of Public Health, is recognized for two practices, “Hot Topics in Practice Webinar Series” and “Public Health Management Certificate Program.” The webinar series provides free, monthly distance-based training to 11,000 public health professionals in the Northwest PHTC’s designated region; trainings are identified through surveys of the health professionals to ensure their needs are being met. The certificate program, offered by the Northwest PHTC, provides management training to public health professionals, thereby easing the burden on health departments to provide such opportunities.


  • The Oklahoma PHTC, housed at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Public Health, is recognized for its practice “Collaboration with the Association of American Indian Physicians.” This collaborative project with the Association of American Indian Physicians led to the sponsorship of two Cross Cultural Medicine Workshops designed to increase participants’ knowledge of both western and traditional medicine. In addition, the two groups sponsored the Advancing Native Health and Wellness Conference intended to increase participants’ ability to provide culturally appropriate health to the Native population and promote the growth of health and medical education programs within Alaska Native, Native American, and Native Hawaiian communities.


  • The Southeast PHTC, at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is recognized for its “Management Academy on the Road” practice. This Model Practice program is designed to increase leadership and management capabilities among public health professionals in medically underserved areas in eleven West Virginia and North Carolina Appalachian counties. Participants of the training develop initiatives to respond to community-specific public health problems, such as substance abuse, diabetes, and oral health.


  • The Upper Midwest PHTC, at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is recognized as a Model Practice for the development of a toolkit and workshop known as the “Strategic Planning Workshop and Toolkit.” The toolkit was developed to support local health departments’ efforts to prepare for public health accreditation. Surveys collected by the Upper Midwest PHTC underscored the lack of knowledge about strategic planning, which is a necessary component to receive accreditation. To respond to this identified need, the PHTC put together an in-person workshop on strategic planning that was subsequently filmed and put online for viewing by other health departments. Additionally, an accompanying toolkit containing strategic planning resources was made available as well.


Eight PHTCs received recognition for their promising practices.


  • The Arizona PHTC, housed at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is recognized for its Promising Practice, “Public Health Essentials in Action: Engaging Agencies and Community to Enhance Training Relevance and Impact.” Based on feedback from a previously designed public health introductory training course, “Public Health 101,” the Arizona PHTC developed a “Public Health Essentials in Action (PHEAI)” course that addresses the three core functions of public health and the 10 essential public health services. The PHTC is collaborating with the Native American Research and Training Center to adapt the PHEAI course for the Native American community.


  • The Kentucky and Appalachia PHTC, located at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is recognized for two Promising Practices. Due to a loss of staff among Kentucky local health departments, the ability of the health departments to prepare for accreditation was severely hampered. As part of the “Public Health Training Centers as Backbone Support for Accreditation Readiness” Promising Practice, the Kentucky and Appalachia PHTC provided much needed accreditation support in areas of data collection, community forum facilitation, community health improvement planning, and strategic planning. To improve local health departments’ ability to conduct self-assessments, the Kentucky and Appalachia PHTC developed the Promising Practice, “Statewide Needs Assessment using Learning Management System and Engaging All Academic and Practice Partners.” This practice provided local health departments with an instrument designed to assess core public health competencies while reducing measurement error.


  • Through its “Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom Collaborative Project” Promising Practice, the Michigan PHTC, housed at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, collaborated directly with a teacher-led interdisciplinary project with colleagues in the engineering, urban planning, and public policy fields to allow students to develop a Health Impact Assessment in an underserved community. This innovative approach to cross-disciplinary education provided students with the opportunity to learn how health is impacted by many influences.


  • Based on a competency-based training needs assessment conducted among health departments in Ohio, the Ohio PHTC, located at the Ohio State University College of Public Health, developed its Promising Practice, “Workforce Development Plan Template and Workshops,” to assist local health departments prepare for the public health accreditation domain on workforce development. This comprehensive tool, including template, user guide, and technical assistance workshops, provides local health departments with the resources necessary to meet their workforce development needs.


  • Responding to both the needs of health departments lacking appropriate levels of staffing and graduate students’ dearth of opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field, the Pennsylvania PHTC, housed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Drexel University School of Public Health, created the “Pittsburgh Summer Institute in Applied Public Health” Promising Practice. The Institute provides students with a comprehensive opportunity to apply knowledge in public health practice while helping to fill the gap of workers in the health department.


  • The South Carolina PHTC, located at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health is recognized for two Promising Practices. As part of its “LiveWell Kershaw: Facilitating the Community Health Needs Assessment in Kershaw County, SC,” the South Carolina PHTC assisted Kershaw Health, a non-profit hospital, with the development of its community health needs assessment. Additionally, the South Carolina PHTC is a partner with the Healthy South Carolina Initiative Community Transformation Grant and has provided much needed support to this initiative. The PHTC’s “Creating Effective Collaborative Partnerships to Create a Sustainable Public Health Workforce” practice highlights the needs for a workforce development plan that incorporates workforce assessment results as a framework as well as input from the people who will be using the plan.


  • Through a partnership with the Iowa Primary Care Association, the Upper Midwest PHTC, located at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, developed the “Electronic Resource and Training Center for the Community Health Center Workforce” practice. The tool was designed to address the lack of adequate training among the public health workforce. The Resource and Training Center was developed to assist workers in locating specific trainings to address a particular knowledge gap.


  • The Western Massachusetts PHTC, housed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, is recognized for its Promising Practice, “Assessing the role of Community Health Workers as public health workers and creating trainings to meet their needs.” This practice is designed to assess the training needs of community health workers and to develop trainings to meet those needs, specifically around public health competencies. The specialized trainings will be developed with the goal to help community health workers link an individual’s specific health needs, in which community health workers are already trained, and public health as an entity.


For more information about each of these practices, or to learn more about the Public Health Training Centers program, click here.