A Healthier Wisconsin

Diversity Matters

Increasing the diversity of Wisconsin's public health workforce

Full Project Name:Diversity Matters: Recruiting Wisconsin's future public health workforcePrimary Community Organization:Wisconsin Public Health AssociationPrimary Academic Partner:Peter Layde, MSc, MD, Emergency MedicineAward Amount:$749,482
Award Date
Project Duration:54 months

Project Description Narrative:

Wisconsin's public health workforce is facing a crisis: significant health disparities, ever-increasing health care expenses and the consequent need to focus on prevention, as well as the increased recognition of the impact of the social and economic determinants of health and an impending decrease in the capacity of the public health workforce to foster healthy communities.

The Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) indicates that a diverse health care workforce can help address disparities. Wisconsin has large health disparities and does not have a diverse public health workforce. To move forward toward a goal of reducing disparities, promoting prevention, and addressing the social determinants of health, Wisconsin's public health workforce must reflect the demographics of the community, be sufficient, and be competent in providing the essential public health services.

Through this award, project partners aim to begin addressing the challenge of increasing African-American and Hispanic involvement in the public health workforce through the identification of and use of evidence-based social marketing tactics.

Additional community partner:
Wisconsin Division of Public Health

Additional MCW academic partners:
Kim Contardi, Emergency Medicine; Jenny Her, Emergency Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Gathered primary data from high school and college students, parents, and public health workers to identify current non-public health career pathways most frequently chosen by African-American and Hispanic high school and college students, as well as barriers impeding the selection of public health careers and the rewards sought in careers

  • Collected secondary data to identify behaviors, behavioral influences, perceptions, benefits, barriers, and best practices related to career path selection among African-American and Hispanic youth

  • Developed a contemporary social marketing effort, partnering with an external agency to demonstrate the wide and visible impact that public health has in the community, give youth real role models, and celebrate the diversity of public health in Wisconsin

  • Hosted the 2016 Public Health Career and Internship Fair, collecting data from atendees demonstrating close to 89% of respondents stated they would likely choose a career in public health after attending the fair. Partners hosted a second event in 2017 and identified a goal to continue similar events and also visit middle and high schools

  • Identified opportunity to incorporate components of the project into the Wisconsin Public Health Association strategic plan as well as to track long-term changes in workforce diversity

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