176353 Increasing HUMAN Resource Capabilities in California's Public Health Laboratories

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Linda S. Whent, PhD , Chicano Studies, University Of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Adela De la Torre, PhD , Center for Public Policy, Race, Ethnicity & Gender, University of California Davis, Davis, CA
Refugio Rochin, PhD , Chicano Studies, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
J. Michael Janda, PhD , DCDC Microbial Disease Laboratory Branch, California Department of Health Services, Richmond, CA
Brett Austin, MA , Ventura County Public Health Laboratory, Oxnard, CA
Kathy Williams, CLS, MT(ASCP)SH , Laboratory Field Services, California Department of Health Services, Richmond, CA
Objective: To assess workforce status and shortage areas of California's Public Health Laboratories (PHL); to identify barriers to recruitment and training of PHL employees; and to suggest policy recommendations to address PHL labor market concerns.

Method: An on-line and mailed survey was sent to California's 38 PHL directors, Spring 2007. Survey items included Likert Scale and open-ended questions. Data were collected in the following areas: (1) Profiles of Staffing Capacities and Needs; (2) Outreach and Recruitment Strategies; and (3) Teaching, Education & Professional Development. Frequency distributions, means and summary content analyses were used to analyze PHL director responses.

Results: The survey response rate was 95% of all PHL directors (n=36). PHL directors and PH microbiologists will experience the highest anticipated vacancy rate over the next 3 years. By 2010, 158 new PHL employees will be needed with 17 of these director positions. A majority of PHL directors (68 %) (n=31) indicated that time and/or funding severely limited their capacity to promote outreach and recruitment, and 82% of PHL directors (n=22) stated their capacity to conduct all elements required for Public Health Microbiologist Certification training is limited.

Conclusions: A critical workforce shortage of PHL directors and line employees in California suggests a need for centralized and coordinated outreach and recruitment. Recruitment focused at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training levels and coordinated statewide training is needed. In addition, steps should be taken to increase availability of web based training opportunities and to employ on-line communication systems to enhance learning.

Learning Objectives:
(1) Recognize the critical need to recruit and train qualified staff to fill Public Health Laboratory (PHL) positions. (2) Identify measures that address the training needs of Public Health staff in California. (3) Discuss specific state and local policy strategies that are targeted to enhance the PHL recruitment and staffing needs for outreach and recruitment in the short and long run.

Keywords: Public Health Policy, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Ph.D. with an emphasis in research and evaluation. I worked on this needs assessment of the Public Health Laboratory workforce in California as part of my work for the University of California at Davis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.