ETSU part of $4.7 million consortium to lead public health workforce research

Published 2:15 pm Friday, October 28, 2022

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Supported with a first-of-its-kind joint $4.7 million cooperative agreement from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six U.S. universities have come together to conduct robust public health workforce research, evaluation and analysis:
• University of Minnesota
• Johns Hopkins University
• Columbia University
• Indiana University
• University of Washington
• East Tennessee State University
The unique collaboration is called the Consortium for Workforce Research in Public Health (CWORPH). Led by the Center for Public Health Systems at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH), CWORPH’s research will look at what drives turnover, ways to recruit and retain staff and how to fill workforce gaps. The consortium also includes several national practice-oriented partners, such as the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Public Health Training Centers, and the de Beaumont Foundation, who will help identify chronic and acute public health needs so CWORPH can investigate them and deliver answers back to the community (see CWORPH organizational model).
Among the consortium members, East Tennessee State University will lead studies focused on the needs of public health workers serving in rural jurisdictions.
“COVID-19 and other public health emergencies have strained our national, state and local public health systems,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health. “This strain is particularly acute in our rural jurisdictions where we have fewer public health workers with more limited resources. We are excited to be a part of CWORPH and to ensure that the public health needs of our nation’s rural communities are a part of this important research opportunity.”
Each of the six consortium members has a deep and longstanding commitment to the mission of public health and the sustainable development of its workforce, including increasing diverse public health staff that represents the communities they serve; public health staff retention; efficient public health workforce systems and processes; and capabilities to implement public health advances.
On the ground with its practice-oriented partners, the consortium’s work will include quantitative and qualitative research to better understand public health workforce needs; large-scale survey data collection and analysis; economic analysis to understand options for resource allocation; and health equity research with a focus on the needs of racial, ethnic minority and rural communities.
“The institutions that are a part of this consortium serve diverse communities and regions from across the United States,” said ETSU lead Michael Meit, co-director of ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research. “With funding from HRSA and CDC, and the support of our consortium partners, we look forward to bringing voice to the rural public health workforce and ensuring that CWORPH’s rigorous, practice-oriented research includes analyses based on the unique geographic factors that impact rural public health practice.”
In addition to Meit, CWORPH partners and faculty leads are: University of Minnesota, JP Leider and Janette Dill; Johns Hopkins University, Beth Resnick; Columbia University,  Heather Krasna; Indiana University, Valerie Yeager; and University of Washington, Betty Bekemeier.

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