May 09, 2022

Strategic Goals for Recruitment and Retention

Janice Blake, MPH

Janice Blake is the Senior Director in the Office of Workforce Development at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She is the Co-Chair of the National Consortium Recruitment and Retention Working Group.

Jeff Oxendine, MBA, MPH

Jeff Oxendine is the Co-Director of the California Health Professions Consortium and the CEO of OXS Consulting. He is the Co-Chair of the National Consortium Recruitment and Retention Working Group.

After more than two years of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the public health workforce are reporting at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more than one-third are considering leaving their job. According to the most recent Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), the public health workforce is facing burn out at a time when public health departments — and others in government — must determine how to better prepare for the next biological catastrophe.

However, while there is no time to waste, if we are going to eliminate the health disparities that led to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color — particularly Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people — we need to determine how to rebuild differently.

Taking on this work, the National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development is united by the belief that achieving health equity requires a workforce with diverse perspectives and experiences, as well as the empathy, humility, and skills to listen to, learn from, and partner with the communities in which they work. In addition to supporting the existing workforce to develop and strengthen these assets, we are focused on more effective recruitment and retention.

In the fall of 2021, the Consortium launched its first Working Group — of which we are the Co-Chairs — with representation from the governmental public health workforce, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Our first task — a deliberative, consensus building exercise — has been to define the group’s strategic portfolio.

Our mandate is to bring the Consortium’s Common Agenda to life, to build on the work and thinking that has been done by the Steering Committee to define the group’s vision, mission, principles, and areas of focus. We also know that we need to think big, to emphasize systems change over incremental improvement. Bringing together our collective experiences and knowledge, we are ready to share our initial thinking.

In the short-term, including work that has already begun and work that will continue over the next three to six months,  the Working Group is focused on the following:

  • Making recommendations to the CDC Public Health AmeriCorps to ensure there is input from the existing governmental public health workforce and to share strategic thinking about how the Corps could function as a pipeline for the governmental public health workforce.
  • Maximizing the utility of Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) by informing the analysis of the data and assisting with dissemination.
  • Collecting information to clarify the recruitment and retention needs in state and local public health departments.
  • Monitoring recruitment trends of public health graduates to inform governmental public health departments’ recruitment strategies.

Over the long-term — the next year or more —  the Working Group will focus on the following:

  • Promoting governmental careers to recent graduates by facilitating partnerships between health departments and schools of public health.
  • Producing a portfolio of best practices for modernizing public health work environments.

As we undertake this work, we recognize and hope that you understand that the portfolio may evolve as we gain new knowledge and understanding and we uncover new opportunities. If you would like to know more about the Working Group, know of other organizations engaged in similar work, or would like to join our efforts, please let us know.

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