Council On Linkages - Public Health Competencies Project
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Background and Prologue

About the Council on Linkages
Prologue to the Core Competencies
How to use this site

Definitions
Printable list of competencies

About the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice

The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice is comprised of leaders from national organizations representing the public health practice and academic communities. The Council grew out of the Public Health Faculty/Agency Forum, which developed recommendations for improving the relevance of public health education to the demands of public health in the practice sector. The need for this improvement, and for public health professionals to place a higher value on practice-specific training and research, were documented by the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Public Health. This project is supported under a cooperative agreement from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Council's Mission: To improve public health practice and education by refining and implementing recommendations of the Public Health Faculty/Agency Forum, establishing links between academia and the agencies of the public health community, and creating a process for continuing public health education throughout one's career.

Member Organizations:

American Association of Health Plans www.aahp.org
American College of Preventive Medicine www.acpm.org
American Public Health Association www.apha.org
Association of Schools of Public Health www.asph.org
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials www.astho.org
Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine www.atpm.org
Association of University Programs in Health Administration www.aupha.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.phppo.cdc.gov
Health Resources and Services Administration www.hrsa.gov
National Association of County and City Health Officials www.naccho.org
National Association of Local Boards of Health www.nalboh.org
National Environmental Health Association www.neha.org
QUAD Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations no web address
Society for Public Health Education www.sophe.org

Prologue to the Core Competencies

The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice is committed to assisting the U.S. Public Health Service in efforts to implement components of The Public Health Workforce: An Agenda for the 21st Century report pertaining to public health competencies. To this end the Council developed a list of core competencies for public health professionals. This list represents ten years of work on this subject by the Council and numerous other organizations and individuals in public health academia and practice settings. Their work has been compiled from various source documents and cross-walked with the Essential Public Health Services. This cross-walk ensures that the competencies help build the skills necessary for providing these essential services.

The list has also been reviewed by over 1,000 public health professionals during a public comment period. The Council utilized several mechanisms to receive feedback from reviewers, including e-mail, focus groups, sessions at various conferences, and the competencies web site. The comments from public health professionals in a broad array of disciplines and practice settings have led to this consensus set of core competencies for guiding public health workforce development efforts. These competencies will ultimately help guide curriculum and content development of public health education and training programs for preparation of practitioners and for the ongoing development of practitioners in the field. The competencies may also be used by those in practice settings as a framework for hiring and evaluating staff.

The core competencies represent a set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for the broad practice of public health. They transcend the boundaries of the specific disciplines within public health and help to unify the profession. However, because the list only captures the cross-cutting competencies for public health practice, it may not contain competencies that are specific to certain disciplines within the field. Discipline specific competencies are necessary for specialized roles within public health. These core competencies for all public health professionals may be used to drive the development of such discipline specific competencies. Moreover, because this list is meant to represent the core, it may not contain many skills that are necessary for the performance of certain jobs within certain practice settings. Individuals, employers, educators, and trainers should use this list as a starting point for developing a modified list of competencies that matches their needs. When applied in the work setting, the competencies listed here as separate are, in fact, practiced in combinations that are dynamic. Therefore, for hiring, performance evaluation, or training, users of the competency list will begin to recognize typical or recurring clusters of competencies that define performance quality in various programs and job categories.

The competencies are divided into the following eight domains: Analytic Assessment Skills, Basic Public Health Sciences Skills, Cultural Competency Skills, Communication Skills, Community Dimensions of Practice Skills, Financial Planning and Management Skills, Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills, Policy Development/Program Planning Skills. Skills and knowledge levels are listed first within each domain, followed by important attitudes relevant to the practice of public health. While attitudes may be more difficult to measure, they can be part of what is taught and should be included in curriculum and content development efforts.

This effort of the Council focuses on core competencies as they apply to front line staff, senior level staff, and supervisory and management staff. Definitions for these job categories follow. The Council acknowledges that these job categories are defined broadly and the lines of distinction between them are not always clear. However, the categories are meant to be flexible and adaptable to the evolving profession. While core competencies for clerical or support staff (e.g. clerks; dental, lab, or nursing assistants; data entry staff; etc.) are also important, they are not part of this current effort. Including clerical and support staff would extend the project beyond its scope. The Council also recognizes that, in many public health settings, job category is often related to educational background. However, educational level and years of experience are not included in the job category definitions because they do not necessarily dictate function within an organization.

Levels of skill have been assigned to each competency based on the job category of the public health professional. The three skill levels are aware, knowledgeable, and proficient. The skill levels for each competency by job category represent the majority opinion of reviewers of the web site. When almost an equal number of responses for two consecutive skill levels occurred, the Council has indicated this by reporting both skill levels. In these cases the actual level of skill for that competency falls along the continuum between the two skill levels. A difference of 10% or less between the number of responses for two consecutive skill levels was used as the threshold to determine what is an equal number of responses. Although skill levels do vary by job category, all public health professionals should at least be aware of these core competencies.

The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice adopted the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals on April 11, 2001 for a three-year period. The list will be reviewed for potential revision by April 2004, taking into consideration its use by the practice and academic communities and the changing nature of public health practice. To view the final list, click here.

The Council is seeking feedback about the utility of the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals from users in the field. On this site you can submit examples of ways you have applied the list of core competencies to your workforce development efforts or see examples shared by others. We also welcome comments about the usefulness and value or limitations of the list.

How to Use This Site

The Council on Linkages is seeking feedback about the utility of the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals from users in the field. Use the buttons on the left side of each page to:

Definitions

Core Competency:
The individual skills desirable for the delivery of Essential Public Health Services. Intended levels of mastery, and therefore learning objectives for workers within each competency, will differ depending upon their backgrounds and job duties.
 
Front Line Staff:
Individuals who carry out the bulk of day-to-day tasks (e.g. sanitarians, counselors, nurses and other clinicians, investigators, lab technicians, health educators). Responsibilities may include basic data collection and analysis, fieldwork, program planning, outreach activities, programmatic support, and other organizational tasks.
 
Senior Level Staff:
Individuals with a specialized staff function but not serving as managers (e.g. epidemiologists, attorneys, biostatisticians, health planners, health policy analysts). They have increased technical knowledge of principles in areas such as epidemiology, program planning and evaluation, data collection, budget development, grant writing, etc. and may be responsible for coordination and/or oversight of pieces of projects or programs.
 
Supervisory and Management Staff:
Individuals responsible for major programs or functions of an organization, with staff who report to them. Increased skills can be expected in program development, program implementation, program evaluation, community relations, writing, public speaking, managing timelines and work plans, presenting arguments and recommendations on policy issues.
Aware:
Basic level of mastery of the competency. Individuals may be able to identify the concept or skill but have limited ability to perform the skill.
Knowledgeable:
Intermediate level of mastery of the competency. Individuals are able to apply and describe the skill.
Proficient:
Advanced level of mastery of the competency. Individuals are able to synthesize, critique or teach the skill.
 

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