Skip to main content
Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

Public Health Training, Research, and Evaluation for the Northwest

Public Health Management Certificate Scholar Gains New Skills for COVID-19 Response

June 8, 2020
Photo montage showing Jo Anne Ferritto: one at her desk and one with her cohort of PHMC scholars.

Public Health Management Certificate scholar Jo Anne Ferritto

NWCPHP sat down with current Public Health Management Certificate (PHMC) scholar and Nursing Supervisor, Jo Anne Ferritto, RN, to learn more about what motivated her to join the 2020 cohort and her experience completing the program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many managers and supervisors in public health, Jo Anne began her career in a different field. She started as a registered nurse in pediatric care and now, as the School Health Nursing Supervisor for Lorain County Public Health near Cleveland, Ohio, she oversees the School Health Program and all school health staff. Jo Anne saw enrolling in the PHMC as an opportunity to challenge herself and to build a strong foundation of management and leadership skills.

Q: What has been your impression of the PHMC overall?

The PHMC program was a perfect environment for me to push myself to do something challenging. The program has given me a supportive space to ask questions, get out of my comfort zone, and make mistakes.

I am in a middle management position and have never had any official leadership or management training, outside of watching webinars and one-day seminars. Having a full year to dedicate to PHMC and so many opportunities to apply what we are learning through hands-on activities and cases has been invaluable. I have already taken almost everything we have learned so far this year and used it in my own work. During the COVID-19 outbreak, it has also been helpful to hear from other public health managers about how they are responding and what they are doing in their region.

Q: Can you give us an example of skills you have gained in the PHMC that you are applying to your work?

It’s almost scary the degree to which the PHMC lessons are aligning with my work. In the fall, during the Managing People and Teams Block, I was conducting staff evaluations with my team of school nurses and had the opportunity to try some of the staff evaluation techniques taught in class.

Now, as we are wrapping up the Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Skills Block, I am sitting on a committee that is hiring a new health officer. I see opportunities for using negotiation strategies like goal setting and clearly articulating the committee’s expectations for the new role to help make sure the diverse needs of the members are met.

Q: What new skills from the PHMC have you used during the COVID-19 response?

My role in the COVID-19 response is constantly evolving and I have found my work on my PHMC integrated project, specifically learning to use logic models and system mapping, helpful during these rapid transitions.

I’ve learned to slow down and think through large scale process changes within the context of our goals and objectives. Now I am always thinking about the balance of my team’s workload, our budget, the resources we have, and the needs within the community. It has helped me anticipate our next steps and more quickly and confidently respond to unexpected changes.

Q: This may be a challenging time for someone to commit to a year-long program. What would you say to someone considering applying for the PHMC?

We don’t know how long the COVID-19 response is going to go on for, but the rest of the world and public health are still moving forward. During this crisis, there are only going to be more opportunities to be a leader within your department. It is truly times like these, when people are stressed and pushed outside of their norm, that the individuals who are committed and present are able to emerge as leaders.

Do not hesitate, there is never going to be a perfect time and you will always be busy. We are all busy, but if you carve out a couple of hours a week and are ready to make a commitment to challenge yourself, you will benefit and grow from taking part in the PHMC.

The Public Health Management Certificate staff and faculty are committed to the success of our scholars. During these uncertain times, we are allowing for increased flexibility for scholars involved in their agency’s response. If you have questions or would like to know more about our COVID-19 related policies, contact Ashley Bullock.

Learn more and apply today.