You are here: Home / Communications / News / Answering That Burning Question: Are We Making a Difference?

Answering That Burning Question: Are We Making a Difference?

Faculty member Carl Osaki shares how he learned the value of conducting evaluations and why those skills are in high demand for today's public health leaders.
Answering That Burning Question: Are We Making a Difference?

Carl Osaki teaching program planning and evaluation.

Faculty member Carl Osaki, RS, MSPH, shares how he learned the value of conducting evaluations and why those skills are in high demand for today's public health leaders.

May 13, 2013

Well-trained public health workers routinely seek to confirm the effectiveness of their programs, but now evaluation findings are often part of a larger conversation. In this era of reduced resources, elected officials and community members frequently question the value of public services. NWCPHP faculty member Carl Osaki, RS, MSPH, believes strong public health evaluation skills are a necessary tool to help today's public health leaders respond to calls for cuts to public health services.

Osaki’s Implementing Program Planning and Evaluation class at the 2013 Summer Institute for Public Health Practice helps practitioners answer that burning question—Are we making a difference?—by teaching how to build and evaluate programs using practical measures.

Osaki says he learned the value of evaluation while working as the Environmental Health Director at Public Health - Seattle & King County. During his tenure, the team wanted to change the way they monitored food establishments by replacing one of a business’s three annual inspections with an educational visit. They had a sense that coupling enforcement with education would be effective and were willing to take a chance on a new approach.

The team worked with the restaurant association on the change. Everyone was enthusiastic but they also needed buy-in from the local board of health. Osaki explains, “The board was skeptical but they trusted us. They made me promise to come back and report on the outcomes. That challenge really changed my thinking.”

Osaki’s team developed metrics to test their new plan. They collected data and brought it back to the board one year later as promised. The results were impressive. Under the new system violations decreased 15 percent and return visits decreased 12 percent. Their relationships with businesses improved significantly. Says Osaki, “It was very satisfying to measure our effectiveness and report the results.”

Drawing on nearly 50 years of public health work, Osaki brings much field-tested expertise to the classroom. He understands that attending a training means that work in the office piles up. For this reason, he asks participants to bring a project from their agency to work on. He promises they will learn practical skills and leave with an evaluation plan that’s ready for implementation back at the office.

Osaki's Summer Institute course on Implementing Program Planning and Evaluation is four days of intensive learning around that agency project. Enroll today to learn the skills for measuring how your program or project is making a difference.

Related Online Courses
Logic Models and Outcome Measurement
Program Evaluation in Environmental Health

STORY TO SHARE?

We love public health stories! We feature them in our postcard series, Spotlight on the Field, and news items. Please contact us to share your story!