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Innovative Environmental Public Health
Workforce Practices


The goal of the Innovative Environmental Public Health Workforce Practices Project is to recognize, collect and widely disseminate innovative practices in order to build the nation’s capacity to recruit, train, and strengthen the Environmental Public Health Workforce. The following submissions were chosen by the Environmental Public Health Workforce Development Consortium (funding provided by the Environmental Health Services Branch of CDC/NCEH through agreement with ASTHO) for recognition as part of the Innovative Environmental Public Health Workforce Practices Project:  



These Innovative Practices were selected from a variety of submissions encompassing many components of the environmental public health workforce continuum (career awareness, academic recruitment, academic preparation, entry-level professional development, mid-level professional development, recognition, workforce retention, leadership development, mentoring, and post-retirement workforce contributions). Winners received a certificate from the Consortium and their abstract and contact information will be posted on member web sites and list servs. Winners will also be invited to present on their project at annual meetings sponsored by the national organizations which belong to the consortium.  

 


  No or Low-Cost Continuing Education

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), through collaboration with state and local public health partners and professional organizations has been able to organize and/or provide quality continuing education opportunities for local environmental health professionals. Annual orientation for new hires is offered by IDPH at no charge to local programs. This orientation program introduces new hires to water, wastewater, food safety, laboratory, nuisance, and other public health programs to demonstrate best practices and identify key contacts that attendees can use as resources in their career. In addition to the assistance IDPH provides, IDPH is able to connect new hires with other environmental health programs to arrange job shadowing as a “real time” training program to learn best management practices.


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    Diversity in Environmental Health

In 2003 the National Environmental Health Diversity Recruitment Task Force (NEHDRTF) was formed through a collaborative effort between Eastern Kentucky University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NEHDRTF was composed primarily of environmental health and a few other professionals from federal, state, and local governments, academia, and industry.

The NEHDRTF’s mission was to develop a diversity recruitment model for the profession of Environmental Health that will achieve racial and ethnic diversity in recruitment, education, and a diverse minority faculty base.

The diversity recruitment model encompasses key concepts that attract students to the field of environmental heath and mentors them into their careers as environmental health professionals.


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  Multnomah County Environmental Health Internship Program: Replenishing the Environmental Workforce of Tomorrow

Multnomah County Environmental Health (MCEH) believes that internships are an effective mechanism to prepare students for the workforce so they gain practical “on-the-job” skills and are better able to apply academic theory into workplace practice. Internships provide public health agencies with a larger pool of qualified employees from which to hire. Our internship program is innovative because it is comprised of three highly structured components: A Post-Secondary Internship, Internship Marketing Plan and K-12 Environmental Health Education.


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  Tangible Assets

Riverside County’s Department of Environmental Health District Environmental Services Division (DES) has always been at the forefront of developing and implementing innovative strategies to retain our Environmental Health Specialists. Because public health is a dynamic field that demands educated, motivated people to provide exemplary services, Riverside County Environmental Health has implemented several strategies to help retain staff. Among these are providing county vehicles for inspectors to use while at work, thereby effectively increasing net income for employees; reducing the size of districts, to accommodate increasing permit densities, increasing salary’s across the board for all staff (including management), reconfiguring the career ladder within the department to provide another step in the Division, quick progression of promotions (trainee thru journey level), Department-wide payment of all fees associated with the maintenance of the Registered Environmental Health Specialist program for all inspectors, implementing a “9/80” work schedule allowing each inspector to have every other Friday off, working with the SEIU local 1997 union to secure a 3% at 60 retirement formula, and providing equipment and technology for each inspector to use while in the field, such as cell phones, digital cameras, and very shortly computers for inspection report writing.


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   Environmental Health Specialist Trainee Program

The extensive nature of the Riverside County Environmental Health Specialist Training Program is what makes it unique. It not only provides the trainees with the wide variety of knowledge and skills necessary to become excellent inspectors, it also prepares the trainees for the California Registered Environmental Health Specialist examination. The training program continuously produces incredible inspectors, along with the fact that our trainees have a nearly perfect passing rate for the state Registration examination in recent years.


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   Career Awareness

Innovative practices are needed in all aspects of workforce development. In Riverside County, Department of Environmental Health, District Environmental Services, we place a big emphasis on career awareness. Our environmental health department is unique in that we have a program, Special Projects, specifically targeted for program development. One of the main focuses of special projects is to create career awareness for the public and fellow professionals. There are many ways in which we promote career awareness.


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   Recruitment Efforts at Colleges and Universities

Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, District Environmental Services (D.E.S.) Division has used recruitment opportunities such as career fairs and job postings in the past. The practice has aided in informing college students and faculty of career opportunities in environmental health and has significantly improved our ability to hire well qualified candidates. In recent years the turnover rate for Environmental Health Specialist positions and the escalation in county-wide population have strengthened the demand for recruitment efforts. It is now apparent that in order to keep up with these trends we must shift more of our efforts to academic recruitment practices and strive to find innovative ideas to draw more interest to careers in the Department of Environmental Health.


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