New York Trains Its Public Health Workforce

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Field of Work: Strengthening the public health system

Problem Synopsis: According to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Public Health, by 1988, the nation had lost sight of its public health goals, and allowed public health to fall into disarray. The report noted that America's public health system was expected to do too much with too few resources. It also stated that capabilities for effective public health actions were inadequate, and the health of the public was "unnecessarily threatened as a result."

To prevent disease and promote health among its 18.1 million residents, New York state needed a large and skilled public health workforce. The state health department and 58 local health departments found it difficult to recruit, retain and train enough public health professionals to meet the needs of New Yorkers.

Synopsis of the Work: Turning Point: Collaborating for a New Century in Public Health, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, defined its mission as to "transform and strengthen the public health system in the United States to make the system more effective, more community-based and more collaborative." The two foundations partnered to support 22 states and 41 local communities in those states. RWJF also supported five National Excellence Collaboratives that allowed states to work together on important public health infrastructure challenges.

In 1997, the New York State Department of Health, which managed the state's Turning Point initiative, created the New York State Community Health Partnership as the steering committee for Turning Point.

Key Results: Participating in Turning Point enabled the New York State Department of Health to secure an annual training budget from the state to support monthly, one-hour satellite broadcasts (Third Thursday Breakfast Broadcasts) which provided essential information for addressing emerging public health issues. The programs are now available to anyone for free.

Turning Point also raised the visibility of the needs of New York's public health workforce. In 2003, the state's Public Health Council published a report titled Strengthening New York's Public Health System for the 21st Century.

That report led to the establishment of the New York State Public Health Workforce Taskforce, which published its recommendations in Roadmap: Strengthening the Public Health Workforce in New York State (2006).