Feature: New State and Local MCH Epidemiologist Organization

New State and Local MCH Epidemiologist Organization

A State and Local MCH Epidemiologist Organization (MCHEPI) is being developed by a group of seasoned state and local public health MCH EPI officials. The organization will support state and local MCH epidemiologist staff in the use of effective public health surveillance and epidemiologic practice through the following methods: training, capacity development, and peer consultation; the development of standards for practice; and advocacy for resources and scientifically-based policy.  If you wish to know more details about the organization’s status or provide input, please contact Bill Sappenfield, State MCH Epidemiologist, Florida Department of Health (Bill_Sappenfield@doh.state.fl.us).

Proposed Mission, Objectives, and Activities of a State and Local MCH Epidemiologist Organization

MISSION:

The organization will promote the use of data to guide public health practice and improve maternal and child health.  The organization will accomplish this by supporting the use of effective public health surveillance and epidemiologic practice through training, capacity development, and peer consultation; developing standards for practice; and advocating for resources and scientifically based policy.

GOALS AND PROPOSED ACTIVITIES:

1.  To promote and improve communication among peers

  • Develop an effective strategy for communication about MCH-related issues.
  • Continue to use MCH listserv as a platform, use the AMCHP/CSTE listserv, or develop a new listserv.
  • Develop a website for posting contacts, announcements, materials, links, job announcements, computer programming code, and other useful information.
  • Develop a periodic update like the AMCHP pulse.
  • Establish web-based discussion board.
  • Conduct quarterly conference calls to discuss projects, collaborative efforts, and emerging issues; these could occur after CDC’s MCH EPI Grand Rounds.
  • Develop communication briefs and strategies for communicating MCH epidemiology’s roles to organizations and funding sources at a local, state, and national level.

2.  To assist in strengthening the work force

  • Promote and develop mentorship strategies for new lead state MCH epidemiologists.
  • Establish a volunteer set of mentors for lead MCH epidemiologists.
  • Assist CDC to develop transition strategies of assignees and other fellows into MCH epidemiology leadership positions.
  • Promote career development strategies.
  • Develop/promote statements of work for MCH epidemiologists.
  • Develop recommendations for funding for MCH epidemiologists.
  • Explore possible recommendations for dedicated funding streams for MCH epidemiologists.
  • Develop recommendations to assure that programs and other funding sources (i.e. federal organizations) fund epidemiology-related functions.
  • Promote recruitment/retention efforts.
  • Develop a set of essentials duties and tasks for use in job descriptions.
  • Develop common mechanisms for distributing job announcements.  (Note: MCH Listserv is the existing source.)
  • Support and attend the career mentoring session at the MCH EPI Conference.  (Note:  this would be more useful for us in the public health field if there were funding for MCH epidemiologists and thus positions available.)
  • Provide information on current and appropriate salary ranges for MCH epidemiologists including masters-level non-physicians, doctoral-level non-physicians, and physicians. 
  • Offer assessments of capacity (something like a STIPDA STAT visit activity).
  • Develop, promote, and support efforts to train MCH epidemiologists.
  • Develop strategies to assure participation at pre-conference training and conferences such as MCH Epi Conference.
  • Request HRSA MCH Bureau and CDC Division of Reproductive Health write a joint letter to Title V Directors and others to request that MCH epidemiologists attend the MCH EPI Conference.  (Note: This would work if there is funding for MCH EPI travel, and if the participation would be either required by a grant or mandatory somehow.  Otherwise, the letter may not be as helpful.)
  • Confer with Juan Acuna and Michael Kogan on the best way to provide state and local input into current national training efforts.  
  • Work with CDC and CSTE to promote and support EIS and CSTE fellows interested in MCH and working on MCH-related projects. 
  • Promote the need for expanded graduate education to train MCH epidemiologists, for expanded placements of graduate students in state and local health agencies, for expanded fellowships post-graduation, and for the introduction of a public health service type program for students receiving funding for their graduate MCHEPI education that requires them to perform certain number of years of service in state and local health agencies in return for funding.

3.  To develop and provide processes and materials that strengthens practice

  • Develop a common set of goals and directions towards which all MCH leaders and MCH epidemiology leaders can work. 
  • Develop a process or mechanism for sharing and discussing best and new innovative practices: epidemiology methods, translation of epidemiology findings, epidemiologists’ roles in different initiatives that led to policy development, and collaboration of epidemiologists from different fields.
  • Develop and promote opportunities to work collaboratively among the fields, such as MCH and Chronic Diseases.
  • Develop practice-related efforts that strengthen the practice field. 
  • Currently there is a six-state effort to develop CORE Preconception Health Indicators.
  • Share/promote effective university and public health organization collaborations.
  • Work with HRSA MCH Bureau to promote the publication of state practice and research articles.
  • Promote the role of translating or communicating epidemiologic studies into practical and applied knowledge for the practitioners who design and implement programs; the workforce exists to serve and inform the work and practice of MCH.

4.  To advocate positions and recommendations that strengthens the field

  • Support and provide input to CDC and HRSA/MCHB on MCH EPI related activities.
  • Provide advice and support to AMCHP, CSTE, NAPHSIS, and the MCH Journal.
  • Develop and promote national recommendations for the field.
  • Develop new partnership with other national organizations, such as NIH/NICHD.   

CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Genet Burka
Brian Castrucci
Anita Cowden
Violanda Grigorescu
Fife Hafsatou
Shaheen Hossain
Jennifer Hudson
Laurin Kasehagen
David Laflamme
Dick Lorenz
Bill Sappenfield
Sam Viner-Brown