Program Competencies


The Graduate Program in Public Health adopted program competencies in 2007. The competencies are based on those promulgated by the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice Core Competencies for Public Health Profession (the Council). The Council is a coalition of representatives from 17 national public health organizations.  Since 1992, the Council has worked to further academic/practice collaboration to assure a well-trained, competent workforce and a strong, evidence-based public health infrastructure.  Competencies are designed to foster workforce development by helping academic institutions and training providers to develop curricula and course content, and to evaluate public health education and training programs.

Core Competencies

Core competencies are those that all students, regardless of specialty track, are required to achieve while in the Program. Core Competencies are integrated into discipline-specific sets within eight domains with skills in each of those domains defined as follows. The Graduate Program in Public Health continually evaluates these competencies for relevance and applicability:

Domain 1:  Analytic/Assessment Skills

  • Assesses the health status of populations and their related determinants of health and illness (e.g. factors contributing to health promotion and disease prevention, availability and use of health services)
  • Describes the characteristics of a population-based health problem (e.g. equity, social determinants, environment)
  • Selects variables that measure public health conditions
  • Uses methods and instruments for collecting valid and reliable quantitative and qualitative data
  • References sources of public health data and information
  • Evaluates the integrity and comparability of data
  • Identifies gaps in data sources
  • Employs ethical principles in the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of data and information
  • Interprets quantitative and qualitative data
  • Makes community-specific inferences from quantitative and qualitative data (e.g. risks and benefits to the community, health and resource needs)
  • Uses information technology to collect, store, and retrieve data
  • Utilizes data to address scientific, political, ethical, and social public health issues

Domain 2:  Policy Development/Program Planning Skills

  • Analyzes information relevant to specific public health policy issues
  • Articulates policy options
  • Determines the feasibility and expected outcomes of policy options (e.g. health, fiscal, administrative, legal, ethical, social, political)
  • Articulates the implications of policy options (e.g. health, fiscal, administrative, legal, ethical, social, political)
  • Utilizes decision analysis for policy development and program planning
  • Manages public health programs consistent with public health laws and regulations
  • Develops a plan to implement policy and programs
  • Incorporates policy into organizational plans, structures, and programs
  • Develops mechanisms to monitor and evaluate programs for their effectiveness and quality
  • Incorporates public health informatics practices (e.g. use of data and information technology standards across the agency where applicable, and use of standard software development life cycle principles when developing new IT applications)
  • Develops strategies for continuous quality improvement

Domain 3:  Communication Skills

  • Assesses the health literacy of populations serve
  • Communicates in writing and orally, in person, and through electronic means, with linguistic and cultural proficiency
  • Solicits input from individuals and organizations
  • Utilizes a variety of approaches to disseminate public health information (e.g. social networks, media, blogs)
  • Presents demographic, statistical, programmatic, and scientific information for use by professional and lay audiences
  • Applies communication strategies (e.g. principled negotiation, conflict resolution, active listening, risk communication) in interactions with individuals and groups

Domain 4:  Cultural Competency Skills

  • Incorporates strategies for interacting with persons from diverse backgrounds (e.g. cultural, socioeconomic, educational, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, professional)
  • Considers the role of cultural, social, and behavioral factors in the accessibility, availability, acceptability and delivery of public health services
  • Responds to diverse needs that are the result of cultural differences
  • Explains the dynamic forces that contribute to cultural diversity
  • Describes the need for a diverse public health workforce
  • Assesses the public health organization for its cultural competence

Domain 5:  Community Dimensions of Practice Skills

  • Assesses community linkages and relationships among multiple factors (or determinants) affecting health
  • Collaborates in community-based participatory research efforts
  • Establishes linkages with key stakeholders
  • Facilitates collaboration and partnerships to ensure participation of key stakeholders
  • Maintains partnerships with key stakeholders
  • Uses group processes to advance community involvement
  • Describes the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the delivery of community health services
  • Negotiates for the use of community assets and resources
  • Uses community input when developing public health policies and programs
  • Promotes public health policies, programs, and resources

Domain 6:  Public Health Sciences Skills

  • Describes the scientific foundation of the field of public health
  • Identifies prominent events in the history of the public health profession
  • Relates public health science skills to the Core Public Health Functions and Ten Essential Services of Public Health
  • Applies the basic public health sciences2 (including, but not limited to biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, health services administration, and social and behavioral health sciences) to public health policies and programs
  • Conducts a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence related to a public health issue, concern, or, intervention
  • Retrieves scientific evidence from a variety of text and electronic sources
  • Determines the limitations of research findings (e.g. limitations of data sources, importance of observations and interrelationships)
  • Determines the laws, regulations, policies and procedures for the ethical conduct of research (e.g. patient confidentiality, human subject processes)
  • Contributes to building the scientific base of public health

Domain 7:  Financial Planning and Management Skills

  • Interprets the interrelationships of local, state, and federal public health and health care systems for public health program management
  • Interprets the organizational structures, functions, and authorities of local, state, and federal public health agencies for public health program management
  • Develops partnerships with agencies within the federal, state, and local levels of government that have authority over public health situations or with specific issues, such as emergency event
  • Implements the judicial and operational procedures of the governing body and/or administrative unit that oversees the operations of the public health organization
  • Develops a programmatic budget
  • Manages programs within current and forecasted budget constraints
  • Develops strategies for determining budget priorities
  • Evaluates program performance
  • Uses evaluation results to improve performance
  • Prepares proposals for funding from external sources
  • Applies basic human relations skills to the management of organizations, motivation of personnel, and resolution of conflicts
  • Applies public health informatics skills to improve program and business operations (e.g. business process analysis, enterprise-wide information planning)
  • Negotiates contracts and other agreements for the provision of services
  • Utilizes cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, and cost-utility analyses in programmatic prioritization and decision making

Domain 8:  Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills

  • Incorporates ethical standards of practice as the basis of all interactions with organizations, communities, and individuals
  • Incorporates systems thinking into public health practice
  • Participates with stakeholders in identifying key values and a shared vision as guiding principles for community action
  • Identifies internal and external problems that may affect the delivery of essential public health services
  • Promotes individual, team and organizational learning opportunities
  • Establishes mentoring, peer advising, coaching or other personal development opportunities for the public health workforce
  • Contributes to the measuring, reporting and continuous improvement of organizational performance
  • Modifies organizational practices in consideration of changes in the public health system, and the larger social, political, and economic environment

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