236: Optimistic About the PH Workforce

Joanne Pearsol, ASTHO’s Director of Workforce Development, says the PH WINS survey shows many public health workers remain committed to their work despite the way they’ve been treated during the pandemic; Dr. Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of...


Joanne Pearsol, ASTHO’s Director of Workforce Development, says the PH WINS survey shows many public health workers remain committed to their work despite the way they’ve been treated during the pandemic; Dr. Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, wants elected leaders to put the PH WINS findings into action; the results of a survey asking public health agencies to report their ability to respond to climate change and extreme weather events are available now; and there's still time to offer comments about a new road map for the Healthy Brain Initiative scheduled to come out later this year.

ASTHO Press Release: The Public Health Workforce in the COVID-19 Era: Survey Results Characterize their Work, Needs, Roles, and Satisfaction

de Beaumont Foundation Webpage: 2021 Findings

ASTHO Brief: Climate and Health Capacity Survey – 10 Key Takeaways

ASTHO Report: Climate and Health Capacity Survey

Alzheimer’s Association Webpage: Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, August 8th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

JOANNE PEARSOL:

Despite the challenges, the majority of the workforce remains committed to their jobs and to their organization.

JOHNSON:

ASTHO's Joanne Pearsol on the results of the latest PH WINS survey of public health workers and the commitment that many still have despite the way they've been treated during the pandemic.

PEARSOL:

94% of the respondents said that the work that they do is important. That's a really strong connection to what you do on a daily basis. Public health is a mission-driven field and people are driven by their commitment to their work and to help others.

So, to me, that's a large thread of optimism.

JOHNSON:

Pearsol points out many also said they'd consider looking for another job.

PEARSOL:

The fact that 76% of those who said they were considering leaving connected that to their involvement in the COVID response or to the pandemic times, that tells me—at least in part—that the system wasn't ready the way that it needed to be. Despite that, workers responded in ways that were absolutely heroic.

JOHNSON:

Pearsol is ASTHO director of workforce development. She's glad that many member states and territories are actively trying to help their employees.

PEARSOL:

Agencies are already starting to take action and being very deliberate about that.

They're looking at new solutions to recruitment challenges, to training challenges. They're looking at new programs to bolster the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce. They're looking at ways to be more people-centered workplaces, looking at creative staffing solutions, ways to keep the current workforce so that they don't have that brain drain and lose staff to other industries. And they're also looking at ways to attract more diverse candidates that truly reflect the makeup of their communities.

And I think these are all reasons to be optimistic.

JOHNSON:

Read more about the PH WINS survey using the links in the show notes.

 

de Beaumont Foundation president and CEO Dr. Brian Castrucci is talking about the PH WINS survey. His organization partnered with ASTHO to compile feedback from almost 45,000 public health workers. He says the results remind us to pay attention to the people doing the public's work.

BRIAN CASTRUCCI:

So in public health, we tend to look externally to the public. We have to remember to look internally to our employees. And this should be something that is discussed in every single health department in the nation to understand how are their employees doing, what they could do better. Because when our employees are satisfied and doing the best work that they can, we'll see those results, you know, transfer into the health of the public.

JOHNSON:

When it comes to elected officials, Castrucci hopes that data is enough to get them moving toward additional support for public health.

CASTRUCCI:

What I know is that if we had similar rates of intent to leave among physicians, there would've already been Congressional hearings. And yet, we are entering into a new outbreak with monkeypox on top of a workforce that is already tired.

And yes, we're getting CDC money and that is going to help, but what we really need is for every state and every governor to understand what's at stake here. We are gambling with the health of our nation.

 

JOHNSON:

Also this morning, the results of a survey asking public health agencies their ability to respond to climate change and extreme weather events are available now.

ASTHO partnered with the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment on the project. You can read the top 10 takeaways from the survey using the link in the show notes.

 

Finally today, a new roadmap for the Healthy Brain Initiative is coming out later this year, but you still have time to comment on its proposed content. The deadline for input is August 15. Get connected using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Joanne Pearsol MA MCHES

Director, Workforce Development, ASTHO

Brian Castrucci DrPh MA

President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation