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Characterizing the Roles and Skill Gaps of the Environmental Health Workforce in State and Local Health Departments

Abstract

Efforts to characterize environmental health workers (EHWs) are needed in order to strengthen the field. Data from the 2014 Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey were used to describe the self-reported roles, important daily work tasks, and skill gaps of EHWs and to compare and contrast these characteristics between state health agencies (SHAs) and local health departments (LHDs). While EHWs at SHAs and LHDs share overall similarities in terms of important daily work tasks and skill gaps, the differences could reflect that the strengths of local-level environmental work fall within communicating and community interaction, whereas state-level strengths reside in administrative, policy, and scientific functions. Our findings also highlight a need for EHWs to strengthen their skills in budget- and policy-related competencies, especially at the local level. We found that number of years in current position was a significant predictor of the number of skill gaps, suggesting the utility of a peer-learning network.

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Speaker / Author:
Leila Heidari, MPH, de Beaumont Foundation
Theresa Chapple-McGruder, MPH, PhD, de Beaumont Foundation
Sandra Whitehead, PhD, National Environmental Health Association
Brian C. Castrucci, MA, de Beaumont Foundation
David T. Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, National Environmental Health Association
Month Year:
January 2019
Volume#:
81.6
Page #:
22-31
Publication Month:
January/February 2019
Subtopic:
Workforce Development