“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walter Disney
I have not been in my office for six months. On a bookshelf sits a binder from a conference I attended in Atlanta, I think in 2003. This was a CDC conference. The theme, technology. I remember Public Health Foundation was present. This is where I first met Stacy and Chris. I learned that Chris lived close to me in Louisville, Kentucky. In the future, we would meet at one of our local coffee shops and discuss TRAIN. This conference is memorable to me because of a presentation by Kristine Gebbie, DrPH.
Gebbie’s Toolkit can be found here
More information about Dr. Gebbie can be found here
I remember sitting in that crowded conference ballroom listening to that presentation and having my aha moment. I remember thinking, this is the secret ingredient of TRAIN and why TRAIN will be so important to the public health workforce.
Leading up to this conference there were a lot of conversations taking place in public health cubicles. I remember attending many meetings in my workplace and the burning topic of conversation centered around credentialing public health program staff, for some reason they were picking on Environmentalists. Back to Dr. Gebbie’s presentation.
That day, I was sitting with hundreds of my peers, Dr. Gebbie went into detail describing the Council on Linkages Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals or skill sets as they related to the training of our public health workforce and how they aligned with our Ten Essential Services. PHAB accreditation would come many years later, but also, ties in nicely with this competency concept.
What problem did Dr. Gebbie solve for me that morning so long ago in Atlanta? I cannot tell you the number of meetings I have had with public health leadership over the subject of identifying those ten magic courses every public health nurse must be mandated to take. The same for front office staff, environmental staff, and administrative leadership staff were all targeted in these conversations.
At the end of the day, only perceived required courses could be agreed upon. HIPAA, Bloodbourne Pathogens, OSHA TB, Limited English Proficient, Civil Rights, Sexual Harassment, and Ergonomics courses made the list of agreed-upon curriculum for all the public health workforce. This curriculum is important but hardly building the skillset of our workforce.
Dr. Gebbie turned this all upside down. We were so intent on focusing on finding those ten perfect courses when all along we needed to be focusing on ten skills each of our disciplines should have at the basic level. That is achievable, we can find an agreement there and that makes TRAIN indispensable.
What does this look like in reality? Well, let us look at nursing. Maybe your team (that includes the targeted audience) decides that it would be a good idea if our nursing staff could communicate well with their patients. That might be a good basic skill to have. So, under communication skills, they chose this competency, “Communicates information to influence behavior, and improve health.” That is a perfect skill every nurse should have.
What does that look like in training the nurse that wants to sharpen their skills not only for themselves but contributing to their workplace following along the ideas of PHAB, individuals improve performance through training that improves the overall efforts of the health department.
Instead of telling the nurses to take these ten mandatory courses that management has hand chosen for you, maybe we take a different approach. Let us train our nurses to search TRAIN by Competency in which they find curriculum that supports the competency Leadership has agreed upon. This is good. In turn, the nurse finds courses in their TRAIN Competency search that turns up topics that interest them. They find learning modalities that they prefer. Who knows, they may even find more than one course to take.
Let us take this idea one step further. Think about this scenario. You are an employee of a local health department. You are an Environmentalist. You sit down at the beginning of the year with your supervisor who lays out a few core basic skills that he thinks are important to your job. The skills are selected directly from the Council on Linkages Competencies for Public Health Professionals list.
You agree these skills are important to what I do every day, and yes, these skills I would like to build upon. Great, you and your supervisor agree that for the next twelve months you will search out curriculum in TRAIN by competency and you both agree you will participate in training over the next 12 months. Your supervisor further supports that this training is to be done during your workday as time permits.
Hello, web-based interactive modules. The mid-year review comes up and you sit down with your supervisor again. How is the training coming along? Well, let us look at my TRAIN transcript. We can look at what I have done so far.
Twelve months have gone by. Again, that sit down with your supervisor. This scenario could play out a couple of different ways.
Your supervisor could congratulate you on the training you have done over the past few months and this has been validated in improved performance. Back in the day, you might even have gotten an increase in pay.
This could also play out differently for you. You might be telling your supervisor that since I have been doing all this training I now qualify for a higher paying job. See yah.
No matter how the scenario plays out, your PHAB Accreditation leader wins no matter what. They will periodically test you, survey you, or whatever instrument name they use and as long as the workforce continues to take training through TRAIN as a life long commitment to improving themselves, this will be all well documented in TRAIN reports that can be directly uploaded into ePHAB and the improved workforce through quality competency based training will show as they continue their PHAB efforts.
Dr. Gebbie, Thank You for those all of these ideas way back in the early 2000s in that ballroom where I sat and could not wait to get back home to begin working on these ideas.
How are using competencies in your training?