Building Leadership Skills and Promoting Workforce Development: Evaluation Data Collected from Public Health Professionals in the Field of Maternal and Child Health
ABSTRACT Professional development, including training and leadership skill building, is important for maternal and child health (MCH) epidemiologists. Current workforce development and training opportunities vary, but lack an emphasis on linking leadership competencies with MCH epidemiology. This paper describes efforts at the annual MCH Epidemiology Conference (the "Conference") to promote leadership activities and workforce development, and recommendations to enhance professional development. An evaluation of attendee opinions on Conference workforce development activities was conducted during the 2009 and 2010 Conferences (70 and 66 % response rates, respectively). Frequencies and percentages were calculated overall and by attendee profession. Qualitative responses to questions regarding workforce and professional development were classified by theme in 2009, and a categorical question was developed for the 2010 evaluation. A combined 38 % of Conference attendees in 2009 and 2010 were MCH epidemiologists and 62 % were other MCH professionals. Attendees recommended more support and access to training, mentoring, and resources including job opportunities. Continuing education (41 %), special knowledge and skills-building training (51 %), and development of online resources for training (57 %) were highly recommended by attendees. Career (47 %) and leadership (49 %) mentoring by senior-level professionals in the field were also highly recommended. Promotion of leadership can be achieved by integrating the concept of leadership into the Conference itself; by publishing and disseminating MCH epidemiologic research in scientific, program, and policy settings; and by communicating the importance of epidemiologic findings to stakeholders and other non-scientific audiences.
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