Online Program

Be prepared for the unexpected: Public health pearls of wisdom

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 4:42 p.m. - 4:54 p.m.

Jonathan J. Sury, MPH, CPH, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY
Maria Carney, MD, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ Health System, New Hyde Park, NY
A health department may go unnoticed in its community if it's doing its job well. Recently more than ever, public health agencies are facing a serious workforce crisis which may ultimately impact the population they serve. An aging workforce with no backfill, continued employee attrition, and concurrent budget cuts with increasing mandates are leaving workers with a less than satisfying “do more with less” mantra. These challenges synergistically impact the staff's ability to carry out day-to-day activities resulting in a chronic loss of staff morale and a catastrophic loss of institutional memory. Passing on experiential knowledge and wisdom can 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-based oral history project aims 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. This collection of thematically based clips serves to preserve the institutional memory of the health department by leveraging the undocumented knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise. Through an academic partnership, this project was collaboratively designed and produced. Individual interviews were qualitatively analyzed to capture emerging themes as a basis for a short, digestible video series. Themes include cross-training, operations in crisis, creating a stimulating work environment, managing the unexpected, and optimal communication. These public health pearls of wisdom, are applicable to any health department and may serve as a unique training and awareness building tool to enable other health department staff to think and act creatively, confidently, and effectively during a crisis of any type.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss awareness of issues and challenges faced within health departments during times of limited resources particularly during disasters or emergent events. Identify key points to success in public health careers. Identify stressors on the public health workforce. Compare and contrast themes identified in this presentation with those experienced within the learners own workplace. Formulate an individual plan to address internal workforce morale issues.

Keyword(s): Workplace Stressors, Public Health Administration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered