142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Why do people work in public health? Results and implications of a worker recruitment and retention study

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

Kathleen Amos, MLIS , Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice, Public Health Foundation, Washington, DC
Ron Bialek, MPP , Public Health Foundation, Washington, DC
Valerie Yeager, DrPH , Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Janna Wisniewski, MHA , Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA
This study explored how and why individuals enter and remain in the field of public health and their satisfaction with the organizational environments in which they work. In 2010, the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice conducted a national survey to investigate factors associated with individual public health workers’ employment decisions.

Nearly 12,000 public health workers across the United States completed the online survey, providing information on demographics, recruitment into public health, retention within public health, and organizational environment. Survey respondents tended to be female, white, and educated at the Bachelor’s degree level or higher, and had been employed in the public health field for approximately 13 years on average. The most common professional role served by respondents was that of public health nurse, and respondents were most likely to work in state or local government. Influential factors contributing to recruitment included the specific work functions involved in a position, job security, competitive benefits, and identifying with the mission of an organization. These same factors, as well as a personal commitment to public service and enjoying living in an area, played a role in retention. On average, approximately 25% of respondents disagreed with a variety of positive statements about their organizations’ leadership and management, such as that management and staff have a shared vision or that there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect within the organization. Results of this survey suggest opportunities for addressing issues of recruitment and retention and improving organizational environment.

Public health, much like other health fields, faces workforce shortages that impact the quality of the nation’s health. Research into what motivates individuals to join and remain in the public health workforce can provide valuable information upon which to build strategies to ensure the development and maintenance of a strong workforce.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain the purpose of surveying public health workers about their employment decisions. Identify at least four factors contributing to the recruitment and retention of public health workers. Describe at least three strategies with the potential to positively impact recruitment and retention within public health.

Keyword(s): Workforce, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working with the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice since 2010 and currently coordinate this study. I have been involved in analyzing, interpreting, and reporting the study results.
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.