• 87th Annual Georgia Public Health Association Meeting & Conference Report

      McWethy, Dianne; Abbott, Regina; Sims, Christy; Morgan, Brain; Harrison, Angie Peden; Gowan, David; Georgia Public Health Association (2016)
      The 87th Annual Meeting of the Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 22-23, 2016, with pre-conference (March 21st) and post-conference (March 23rd) Executive Board meetings. As Georgia’s leading forum for public health researchers, practitioners, and students, the annual meeting of the GPHA brings together participants from across the state to explore recent developments in the field and to exchange techniques, tools, and experiences. In recent years the venue for the GPHA annual conference has been Atlanta, with the 2017 GPHA Annual Meeting and Conference also scheduled to be held in Atlanta. Several new initiatives were highlighted as part of this year’s conference. These included three pre-conference workshops, expansion of academic sponsorships, an enhanced exhibit hall integrated with the poster sessions, silent auction, breaks and President’s Reception, an information booth, and an inaugural administration section track. The 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference added the Certified in Public Health (CPH) Continuing Education (CE) designation. The theme for the conference was Understanding Public Health: Research, Evidence and Practice, which reflects the science of public health. Specifically, the program addressed strengthening health systems in the United States and other countries through public health informatics; national accreditation of local health departments; applying an epidemiological approach to promoting reading proficiency for young children; an examination of factors related to health and educational disparities; continuing efforts to eliminate health disparities; and addressing key public health issues important to the state of Georgia. One hundred and nine (109) abstracts were submitted for peer review; 45 were accepted for poster and 40 for workshop presentations. Four plenary sessions with keynote speakers covered the development of collaborative methods to strengthen information capacity of public health systems, including accreditation and the linkage between early brain development and reading success. Concurrent workshops focused on board of health training, public health accreditation, capacity building, collaboration, health disparities, impacts of climatic variability on public health, monitoring systems for travelers from Ebola-affected countries, policy, and regulation. Twelve (12) awards were presented, including Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Dean Burke for his legislative efforts critical to the success of public health initiatives. These efforts included a bill creating the Maternal Mortality Committee within the Georgia Department of Public Health and his efforts related to potential Medicaid innovations for public health. The SellersMcCroan Award went to Lee S. Caplan, MD, MPH, PhD, Professor, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine for his efforts in securing funding from the National Cancer Institute to develop and implement a Cancer Prevention and Control Research Training Program that focuses on cancer disparities. The conference attracted 475 registrants primarily through pre-registration (n=461) with limited onsite registration (n=15). Although there was a decrease in overall conference attendance (19%), the number of exhibitors (n=36) and sponsorships (n=17) remained constant as compared to 2015. There was a significant increase in the number of posters (n=9), while the number of workshops remained the same (n=40). Of registrants reporting GPHA section participation, representation included: Academic (13%); Administration (25%); Boards of Health (11%); Career Development (4%); Emergency Preparedness (1%); Environmental Health (7%); Epidemiology (7%); Health Education and Promotion (8%); Information Technology (3%); Maternal and Child Health (5%); Medical/Dental (1%); Nursing (10%); and Nutrition (1%). There was a significant increase in the Administration Section (15%) which is likely attributable to the addition of the Administration Track. Yvette Daniels, JD, of the Department of Public Health was instrumental in working to revitalize the Maternal and Child Health Section and the Safety and Health Preparedness (formerly Emergency Preparedness) Section participation at the Annual Meeting and Conference. There was 100% participation in the conference from the state’s 18 public health districts. The online conference evaluation completed by a representative sample of registrants indicated areas of potential improvement as: alignment of breakout session topics with conference theme, enhancement of the use of information technology and social media for the conference agenda/syllabus, change pre-workshops to post-workshops, and consider repetitive sessions. Most rated the conference as “good” or “excellent.”
    • Chronic disease prevention as an adaptive leadership problem

      O'Connor, Jean; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
    • Recruitment, retention, and succession planning for district health directors

      Rudd, Lee; Georgia Department of Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2017)
      Background: Since the District Health Director (DHD) leads the district health organization, plans must be put in place to ensure that we retain current directors and anticipate the future when the DHD retires from the position. Methods: Best practices in the areas of recruiting, retention, and succession planning are used to present resolutions to the problems. Results: By following the steps identified in the best practices, there is a reasonable chance that the district will be prepared for any change in leadership. Conclusions: Using the best practices identified by human resources professionals combined with the unique characteristics of public health districts will ensure success.
    • A region-wide field placement program built on the foundation of mentorship and professionalism

      Carvallo, Michelle; Lloyd, Laura; Alperin, Melissa; Miner, Kathleen (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The Region IV Public Health Training Center (R-IV PHTC) provides public health students from the eight states of HHS Region IV with essential practice experiences that demonstrate the value of working with underserved populations. The Pathways to Practice Scholars field placement program is built on a foundation of mentorship, professionalism, and community. Methods: Sixteen student scholars (13 graduate; 3 undergraduate) were selected to work during May-August 2015 in practice-oriented agencies serving underserved populations. Each scholar received a $1500 living allowance. Seven of 16 accepted an internship outside the state of their university. In conjunction with mentors, Scholars developed work plans based on Council on Linkages Core Competency domains. Requirements included a pre-, mid- and post-assessment, an executive summary/reflection, and a virtual webinar presentation. Results: Student Scholars worked at sites across eight states in state or local health departments, Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and healthcare settings. Students identified Core Competency domains they developed most during the field placement: Communication, Analytical/Assessment, Leadership/Systems Thinking, and Community Engagement. The R-IV PHTC asked mentors to treat interns as valued employees and include them in activities beyond their specific project. Indicators of successful mentorship included expressed appreciation for student assistance and the desire to enrich the student experience while benefiting the agency mission. Mentors provided clearly defined projects for a short timeframe (10-12 weeks), adjusted to the students’ capacity and readiness, and offered opportunities to apply classroom skills to practice. They helped students develop immediately useful products in collaboration with community stakeholders. Conclusions: Mentors play a crucial role in the development and success of field placement students, but students and mentors share equal responsibility in fostering the relationship. Past case studies from this program demonstrate that some students find employment in these same agencies after graduation, and become mentors for future students, thus, creating a self-perpetuating learning communit