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Ensuring a competent public health responder workforce: The CDC experience

M. Gabrielle O’Meara, BA, Robyn K. Sobelson, PhD, Silvia M. Trigoso, MPH, Rachel E. Kramer, MPH, Rebecca J. Smartis, MS, Joan P. Cioffi, PhD

Abstract


Introduction: From 2009 to 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Incident Management System for a public health emergency 91 percent of the time. The CDC must ensure its workforce is prepared for the evolving nature of emergencies.

Objectives: The purpose of this assessment was to identify perceived preparedness and response training needs for the CDC responder workforce.

Methods: Between November 2012 and January 2013, focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with CDC responders, including senior leaders. The evaluation questions were: (1) How well does the current training system prepare CDC staff to respond to emergency events? (2) What gaps exist in the current training system? and (3) What trainings are essential and should be included in the training system?

Results: Eight focus groups were conducted with 51 responders and 18 interviews with response leaders. Themes were identified for each main outcome measure and translated to training improvements.

Conclusions: The CDC workforce received foundational training. Recommendations are provided to better prepare responders during an emergency. Periodic assessments are necessary to expand training and remain responsive to the complexities of emerging threats.


Keywords


needs assessment, education and training, public health preparedness, public health professional

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5055/jem.2019.0418

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