The Survive and Thrive Program

Encouraging Coaching, Mentoring, and Peer Learning Among New Local Health Officials

This article presents an overview of the Survive and Thrive Program, a training program designed to help new local health officials develop the knowledge and skills to succeed at their work.

New public health officials face multiple challenges, including the aging of the public health work force, limited budgeting due to severe economic distress, and new public health responsibilities such as terrorism and pandemic response. The authors profile the pilot year of the Survive and Thrive Program.

Key Findings:

  • The Survive and Thrive curriculum consisted of 100 hours of training spanning a 12-month period. It used techniques from executive training programs train local health officials in several competencies:
    • Identifying roles and responsibilities within their local health department;
    • engaging public officials, state health department staffs and community partners;
    • managing local health department employees, finances and information; and
    • accessing peer and mentoring resources to help solve problems as they arise.
  • Thirty new local health officials worked with eight mentors, each of whom had more than two decades of local health leadership experience.

The Survive and Thrive Program has an evaluation component to allow program officials to assess the progress of the program and also to provide continuous quality improvement. The Survive and Thrive evaluation will implement an integrated mixed-methods assessment and multisource system to collect stakeholder feedback. The evaluation should provide information about how well Survive and Thrive meets its program goals.

The Survive and Thrive Program was developed to help local health officials improve their work at a time of serious challenges for the public health system. If its mentor-based curriculum is successful it may prove to be a model for other public health and leadership training programs.