Today there are significant challenges to public health, and effective responses to them will require complex approaches and strategies implemented by a qualified workforce. An adequately prepared workforce requires long-term development; however, local health departments have limited financial and staff resources. Schools and programs accredited by the Council for Education on Public Health (CEPH) are required to provide continuing education but are constrained by the lack of resources, limited time, and geography.
To meet these challenges, a statewide university/community collaborative model for delivering continuing education programs was developed. A needs assessment of California's public health workforce was conducted to identify areas of interest, and two continuing education trainings were developed and implemented using innovative distance education technology.
Thirty-six percent of the participants completed electronic evaluations of learning outcomes and use of the digital technology platform. Participants indicated a significant increase in knowledge, reported that the trainings were cost effective and convenient, and said that they would participate in future online trainings. Collaborative partners found that this model provides a cost-effective, environmentally sound, and institutionally sustainable method for providing continuing education to public health professionals.
Offering continuing education via distance technology requires substantial institutional infrastructure and resources that are often beyond what many public institutions can provide alone. This project provides a model for collaborating with community partners to provide trainings, using a digital technology platform that requires minimal training and allows presenters and participants to log on from anywhere there is Internet access.