Identifying training gaps in public health competencies and skills is a first step in developing priorities for advancing the workforce.
Our purpose was to identify training gaps in competencies and skills among local, state, and nonjurisdictional public health employees in Washington State. Our secondary aim was to determine whether training gaps differed by employees' work-related and demographic characteristics.
We used data from our training needs assessment of the public health workforce, conducted as an online cross-sectional survey in Spring/Summer of 2016.
Respondents and Setting:
Employees from governmental local, state, and nonjurisdictional public health departments in Washington State.
Main Outcome Measures:
Training gaps were calculated for 8 public health competencies and 8 skills, using a composite score of respondents' ratings of their “training confidence” and “training need.” For each domain and skill area, we calculated the percentage of associated items, where respondents rated their training needs as high and their confidence as low to create scores ranging from 0% to 100%.
The largest training gaps in public health competencies were in the Financial Planning and Policy Development domains. For skills, Quality Improvement and Developing Effective Communication Campaigns had the largest training gaps. In adjusted models, female employees or employees working in local health departments in select Washington State regions had higher training gaps in Financial Planning, Policy Development, and Quality Improvement, relative to male or state health department employees. Employees who worked in specialized programs, such as Communicable Disease Control, and Maternal, Child, and Family Health, had higher training gaps in Financial Planning and Developing Effective Communication Campaigns than those who worked in Administrative and Support Services.
We identified important training gaps in several competency domains and skills. Findings are informing decisions about tailoring training opportunities for public health practitioners in Washington and other states.