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An Examination of the Self-directed Online Leadership Learning Choices of Public Health Professionals

The Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute Experience

Fernandez, Claudia S. P. DrPH, MS, RD, LDN; Noble, Cheryl C. MSPH, MSW; Jensen, Elizabeth T. PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September/October 2017 - Volume 23 - Issue 5 - p 454–460
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000463
Research Articles: Research Full Report
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Objectives: To assess the self-selected asynchronous leadership module-based learning choices of public health professionals participating in the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH PHLI).

Methods: Online module completion and evaluation data were used to determine the topics most utilized by the Fellows; whether the topics and mode of training were acceptable, relevant, and practical; and whether participant characteristics explained any usage patterns.

Participants: A total of 109 enrolled Fellows in the MCH PHLI program.

Main Outcome Measures: Module frequency of selection by Fellows; Fellows' rating scores in regard to relevance, practicality, and acceptability of module topics.

Results: All program titles were highly rated. The 5 most frequently selected module topics were employee engagement (87.2%), talent acquisition strategies (84.4%), employee motivation (79.8%), emotional intelligence (78.9%), and workforce development strategies (68.8%). The least accessed topics focused on cultural competence (15.6%), social marketing (25.7%), effective communication and advocacy (25.7%), family partnerships (25.9%), and creating learning organizations (31.2%). All module topics provided were rated as relevant, practical, and acceptable to these public health leaders.

Conclusion: Self-directed computer-based learning was rated strongly by the MCH public health leaders in this study. Such an approach can be used to customize training to individual needs and interests. These findings suggest that inclusion of skills that enable public health leaders to effectively work with and through others was of core interest in the MCH PHLI. The finding of higher usage of topics related to workforce management can provide guidance for those developing leadership development programs for maternal and child health professionals. In addition, leadership needs and interests should be assessed regularly to ensure that competency-based leadership development guidelines are adapting to the evolving and complex challenges faced by leaders. While these results were tested in MCH professionals, they may be generalizable to other disciplines within the field of public health.

Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Dr Fernandez and Ms Noble); and Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston–Salem, North Carolina, and Department of Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Dr Jensen).

Correspondence: Cheryl C. Noble, MSPH, MSW, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 170 Rosenau Hall, CB #7400, 135 Dauer Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (cnoble@email.unc.edu).

The Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH PHLI) was supported in full by a Project T04 MC12783 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health & Human Services. Mr Ruben Fernandez, JD, served as a faculty in the MCH PHLI program and is related to the project principal investigator.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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