263841 Be Prepared for the Unexpected: Public Health Pearls of Wisdom

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 2:30 PM - 2:50 PM

Jonathan J. Sury, MPH, CPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Maria Carney, MD , Department of Geriatric Medicine and Adult Development, North Shore LIJ Health System, Hofstra University School of Medicine, Nassau Center for Health Initiatives & Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Garden City, NY
David M. Abramson, PhD MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Public health agencies face a serious workforce crisis: an aging workforce with no sign of backfill, continued employee attrition, and concurrent budget cuts with increasing mandates leaving workers with a “do more with less” mantra. These challenges act synergistically to directly impact the staff's ability to carry out day-to-day activities causing a chronic loss of staff morale, and ultimately a loss of institutional memory. Passing on experiential knowledge and wisdom may be an effective method of empowering health department staff to think creatively, foster collaboration and leadership, and improve the efficiency of day-to-day operations. This research videography project aimed to preserve the institutional memory of, and forever capture, the universal pieces of wisdom of 10 current and former New York metropolitan-area health department employees with over 250 years of combined experience. These video-driven trainings serve to preserve the institutional memory of the health department by leveraging the undocumented knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise. Through an academic partnership, this study was collaboratively designed, implemented, and evaluated. Individual interviews were video-taped and qualitatively analyzed, using grounded theory, to capture emerging themes as a basis for a modular training package. Themes include cross-training, operations in crisis, the unexpected, and optimal communication. This oral history tool was implemented within the health department by a trained in-house facilitator. These public health pearls of wisdom, are applicable to any health department and may offer a unique training tool to enable other health department staff to think and act creatively during a crisis, fiscal or emergent.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify key stressors on the public health workforce. Compare and contrast themes identified in this presentation with those experienced within the learners purview. Describe the impact of fiscal crises on day-to-day and emergency operations in a local health department. Formulate an individual plan to address internal workforce morale issues.

Keywords: Workplace Stressors, Public Health Administration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted disaster preparedness, response, and recovery research for five years with topical areas including: emergency and risk communication with vulnerable populations, workforce ability and willingness to work, spatial components of disaster recovery. Additionally, I have completed multiple collaborative learning projects with local health departments.
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.