May 4, 2017

Public Health Management Certificate scholar John Thompson holding his baby's newborn screening paperwork.

NWCPHP sits down with John Thompson, scholar in the 2015-16 Public Health Management Certificate program, to learn how his integrated project helped shape his professional growth.

Throughout the year, scholars in NWCPHP’s Public Health Management Certificate program have an opportunity to work on an individual integrated project. These projects are often timely and relevant to the scholar’s job or function within his or her organization.

For 2015–16 scholar John Thompson, his integrated project is helping to improve the workforce of Washington State Department of Health’s Newborn Screening Program. NWCPHP caught up with John to learn how his project helped shape his professional growth.

What was your integrated project about?

The non-laboratory side of newborn screening has been significantly impacted by staff turnover, unfilled vacancies, and recent modifications in the newborn screening law. The newborn screening workforce resources allocation project (NBS-WRAP) brought a multidisciplinary group of program staff together to analyze gaps in services and identify what resources are needed. The workgroup members performed individual assessments and participated in team activities to provide input to newborn screening management on how to creatively fill gaps in services. As a result, we have a vision for restructuring some of the current positions as well as plans to hire people for these new roles in the coming months.

How did the Management Certificate program support you in planning and implementing your project?

The problem of inadequate staffing needed to be addressed. The Management Certificate program gave strength to the effort by requiring a formal plan and also provided valuable external mentorship and feedback. It also kept my feet to the fire because there were deadlines to meet. Understandably, there were unforeseen circumstances that caused delays in the original plan, but my mentor, the other faculty members, and classmates supported me through those times.

Do you work differently since completing the Management Certificate program? Has it changed your management techniques?

One of the most meaningful activities was preparing the systems map for newborn screening. It was enlightening to spend time thinking of the interconnectedness of our daily work with both internal and external partners. This activity has increased my awareness on how our program decisions influence others and how we can be impacted by what our partners do and do not understand. This influences how I interact with my staff, upper management, and external stakeholders.

What were the most useful things you learned while working on your project?

The program’s in-person training helped me identify the gatekeepers and solidified the importance of involving frontline employees in the process. The week of training also provided examples of activities that we utilized in our NBS-WRAP efforts such as the brainstorming exercises.

Would you recommend the Management Certificate program to others in your field?

Definitely! The program was both challenging and rewarding.

Visit the Public Health Management Certificate to learn more.