- Akinade Toyese
Personal and Professional Development Plan
The purpose of this paper is to identify key personal learning goals that are important for the overall growth as a public health professional. We will create an action plan to achieve these goals and integrate goals reflecting ethical professional behaviour while we analyze the relationship between the goals, action plan and the requirements of becoming a public health leader.
As a future leader in the field of public health, my responsibilities would be to:
- Prevent epidemics
- Protect the environment and the workplaces
- Monitor health status of population
- Mobilize community action
- Respond to disasters
- Assure quality and accessible healthcare
- Reach out to link high-risk and hard-to-reach people to needed service
- Research to develop new insight and innovative solutions
- Lead the development of sound health policy and planning (Novick & Morrow, 2000).
Therefore my key personal and professional learning goals need to correlate with my duties as a public health leader.
First, I desire to add knowledge on surveillance and assessment of the population’s health. This will help me to understand the difference between individual and population health. The aim is to create awareness that health and wellbeing inequalities exist. It would also help to understand: what surveillance is and what it is used for, factors that affect health and wellbeing, and how everyone can contribute in their personal and work capacity (Mala, 2009).
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Secondly, I wish to improve my knowledge on how to assess the effectiveness of intervention programmes and services. Every epidemiologist requires this to understand how accurate data and information contribute to an understanding of the population’s health. The knowledge would also provide opportunity to learn about the basic data collection methods that is required for accurate data recording and would enhance leveraging and partnership (Mala, 2009).
Also, I want to learn about policy and strategy development and implementation for population health and wellbeing. This is useful to provide awareness on health and wellbeing and its various aspects. It would help to understand how morbidity and mortality are measured in a population (Mala, 2009). This is the reason why public health leaders are expected to be able to make the right decision, shape culture, be able to handle conflicts, possess ability to influence large scale change and be a good communicator.
Besides, I desire to learn about how to be an effective and collaborative public health leader. Day et al believe that public health leadership is about networking and coordination so leaders should be able to combine administrative excellence with a strong sense of professional welfare and actively develop the profession, articulate its shared values, and build for the future (2012). Mala believes that this would also help to provide knowledge on how to obtain and use routine data to describe the health and wellbeing of a defined population (2009).
In addition, effective leadership needs to: respond to cultural clues (Deal & Kennedy, 1999), mobilize people to tackle tough problems (Heifetz, 1994), help people come to terms with bad news (Gray, 2009) manage crisis, catalyze commitment and stimulate higher performance standards (Collins, 2006). I aspire to all these attributes because public health leaders with desire for success and greatness must possess these qualities to make the right decisions happen.
Lastly, I wish to learn about the public health leaders approaches to health improvement and protection. Through this I can understand how to: collect and collate routine data on health, use a range of tools and techniques, analyze routine data on health, communicate and disseminate findings on the health of a population to others, assess the implications of surveillance, recommend appropriate response(s), facilitate and support others to collate, analyze, and communicate health data (Mala, 2009).
The action plans to achieve all the mentioned personal learning goals are highlighted below:
- Participation in mentoring or fellowship programme to develop and enhance my characteristics and capacity as a “superhero”
- Formal training programme or targeted training to develop capability across the range of public health competencies
- Participation in short course to increase awareness of public health role and to develop basic public health skills to improve public health function (Collins, 2006).
In addition, I plan to pursue post graduate studies in public health through which I can develop both academic and professional competency. Also, I will be involved in different capacity building workshops, researches and proposal writing so that my writing skill can improve.
Lastly, I will continue to engage and learn from the public health leaders whom Collins referred to as “superheroes” who have capacity to influence and train the next generation (2006).
However, there are goals that reflect ethical professional behavior. James identified these as “Foundational and Public Health Practice Ethical Skills” (2004).
Essentially all of the principles of the Code of Ethics assume or rely upon these skills. These foundational ethical skills were described by James (2004) as follows:
- The ability to identify an ethical issue
- Ethical decision-making. This is a skill both for individuals and agencies (where it would be a group process). One component of the decision-making process is identification and weighing of harms and benefits of the potential actions. In economics this is a cost-benefit analysis, but in ethics harms that defy financial quantification must also be included among the costs.
- Understanding the full spectrum of the determinants of health. This understanding is necessary to identify the best means of prevention. Thus a biologist needs to understand social factors affecting health and a sociologist needs to have a basic understanding of biological processes.
- Understanding basic ethical concepts such as justice, virtue, and human rights.
- Building and maintaining public trust. Public health agencies cannot function well in the absence of public trust. Many of the individual ethical skills function to maintain that trust. Yet, in some instances, one may be ethically justified to take a particular course of action that won’t build public trust. Thus, what a person or agency ethically can do may be different from what it should do to cultivate trust.
James (2004) also thinks that public health practice should address twelve ethical issues:
- Fundamental causes of disease and requirements for health, aiming to prevent adverse health outcomes
- Community health in a way that respects the rights of individuals in the community
- Develop and evaluate policies, programs that ensure an opportunity for input from community members
- Advocate and work for the empowerment of disenfranchised community members, aiming to ensure that the basic resources and conditions necessary for health are accessible to all
- Seek the information needed to implement effective policies and programs that protect and promote health
- Provide communities with the information they have that is needed for decisions on policies or programs and should obtain the community’s consent for their implementation
- Should act in a timely manner on the information they have within the resources and the mandate given to them by the public
- Programs and policies should incorporate a variety of approaches that anticipate and respect diverse values, beliefs and cultures in the community
- Programs and policies should be implemented in a manner that most enhances the physical and social environment
- Should protect the confidentiality of information that can bring harm to an individual or community if made public. Exceptions must be justified based on the high likelihood of significant harm to the individual or others
- Institutions should ensure the professional competence of their employees
- Institutions and their employees should engage in collaborations and affiliations in ways that build the public’s trust and the institution’s effectiveness.
Meanwhile, it is clear, but must be kept in mind, that leaders are never developed only in the academic arena. People become leaders through their efforts, by taking correct steps in the real world. In fact Kouses and Posner believe that leaders are life-long learners.
In Hideo and Kenneth (2010) view, public health professionals usually obtain knowledge and skills through their daily activities, that is, through on the job training regardless of their professional backgrounds. They believe that post-secondary educations, for example Master of Public Health (MPH) programs, are one of the popular options, offering opportunities to learn the public health discipline throughout the world.
However, Koh and Jacobson (2009) advised that aspiring public health leaders should not be left alone to find guidance. He thinks that those with convening power can create new learning and teaching for the field by bringing together multiple parties, disseminating lessons learned from successful interventions and supporting those willing to take on the leadership challenge. Those who have successfully navigated these waters can share their insights as experienced change agents and coach those otherwise working in isolation. Although Howard believes that academia is a natural place for such convening activity, Kouses and Posner believe that new medical school graduates, public health physicians often find themselves in difficult situations because of insufficient experience.
In conclusion, the core competencies required by public health professionals are: analytic/assessment skills, policy development/program planning skills, communication skills, cultural competency skills, community dimensions of practice skills, public health sciences skills, financial planning and management skills, and leadership skills. Public health leaders obtain these knowledge and skills through their daily activities, that is, on the job training regardless of their professional backgrounds. Therefore continuous learning on the job and academics are essential ways to mentor and develop future leaders in public health. According to Koh & Jacobson (2009) commitment to this may well move us closer to realizing the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.
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