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Managing a New Professional Path

The Public Health Management Certificate program provides important foundational training for new, emerging, and current mid-level managers.
Managing a New Professional Path

Left to right: Kara Seaman and Pat Shaw, RN, BSN

The Public Health Management Certificate program provides important foundational training for new, emerging, and current mid-level managers.

June 12, 2014

NWCPHP's Public Health Management Certificate program attracts mid-level managers from state, local, and tribal public health organizations across the nation. For those new to supervisory roles, the yearlong training provides an important foundation in management.

Clark County Public Health Program Manager, Pat Shaw, RN, BSN, was a scholar in the program's very first year, 2011–12. Though she had a wealth of experience working as a maternal child health nurse, Shaw found herself in a new role in 2007, managing a number of Clark County Public Health programs and supervising public health nurses, health educators, community health workers, and administrative staff.

"My supervisor was concerned I was trying to become an expert on the program I was overseeing, rather than managing from a broader level," said Shaw. "I needed to develop more confidence as a manager—embrace the role a little more—and the management certificate program was a great help. After going through the program, my manager said she saw increased confidence, increased understanding of systems level work, and greater expertise in health information technology (HIT) from me."

Management Certificate participants gain concrete skills that are immediately applicable to their workplace. In addition to core and elective coursework, each scholar identifies an individual integrated project to complete under the guidance of a mentor.

Shaw's project involved writing policy briefs on sustainable syringe services program in Clark County, which continues today, and on introducing an overdose prevention program, which is about to launch. She continues to use policy briefs and other project management tools to improve communication flow between staff, managers, and the leadership team. Additionally, after taking an elective course on health information technology, Shaw feels better prepared to lead her program through an upcoming transition to an electronic health record system.

Paving the Way for Others

After her positive experience with the program, Shaw recommended the Public Health Management Certificate to her supervisee, Kara Seaman, who at the time was working as the Coordinator for Clark County Public Health's Graduation, Reality, and Dual-Role Skills (GRADS) grant, designed to connect pregnant and parenting teens to community resources.

"I saw great potential in Kara as a manager and leader and knew she would put her all into the program, even when working full-time," said Shaw.

"I was new to public health, and new to Clark County Public Health, so when Pat discussed this opportunity with me, I was hesitant at first," said Seaman. "I had only been there about eight months and was wondering if perhaps I might be biting off more than I could chew. But, then I thought of a quote I happen to like, 'Take the path that makes you afraid.' This is when true growth and learning occur. I loved my job with Clark County and thought broadening my training in public health management was a good idea."

"The program was fantastic and provided me public health-specific management training," continued Seaman. "One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to network with public health professionals from all over the country. I remember sharing a Washington State publication with one of my colleagues in Alaska as it was specific to a topic in which she was working. It was very rewarding to be able to collaborate on that level."

Seaman's integrated project involved conducting an evaluation of a pilot project connected to her GRADS grant.

"I had never conducted a formal evaluation and wanted the opportunity to learn how to do this from the ground up," said Seaman. "It was an exhilarating and personally rewarding experience to have been able to actually complete this and report out the findings."

Mid-way through the Public Health Management Certificate program, Seaman transitioned to a new position as a Healthy Communities Consultant (HCC) at the Washington State Department of Health. Though the position is not a management role, she is still able to use the skills and tools learned from the program.

"The work is constantly evolving, and many of the skills I learned in the program help me to provide better service, both internally and to our partners," said Seaman. "I would definitely recommend the program to others. Since life is a continual quality improvement process, someday, I'd also like to participate in NWCPHP's Public Health Leadership Institute."

The Public Health Management Certificate program is currently accepting applications for the 2014–15 cohort year. Discounts are available for organizations that send a group of three or more people. For more information, contact Janell Blackmer, Program Coordinator.

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