By Arden Handler, DrPH, Deneen Long-White, PhD and Jaime Klaus, MA
National MCH Workforce Development Center, University of Illinois-Chicago
The National MCH Workforce Development Center has launched multiple new initiatives during its first year in an effort to increase state Title V program capacity to respond to the changing health care environment. One of these exciting new initiatives is the "Paired Practica" program. Partially modeled on the successful Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Graduate Student Epidemiology Program (GSEP), the "Paired Practica" program of the MCH Workforce Development Center exposes current MCH undergraduate students and MCH graduate students/recent graduates to state Title V agencies as they undergo a transformation to a systems integration approach. Likewise, the "Paired Practica" program directly exposes the MCH workforce "pipeline" to contemporary practice changes while providing the current MCH workforce in Title V agencies with the opportunity to both "acculturate" the future workforce and to benefit from the new knowledge and skills of current trainees. A unique feature of the "Paired Practica" program is the pairing of an MCH graduate student in a School of Public Health MCH Training Program with an undergraduate from the Howard University MCH Pipeline program. In the "Paired Practica" program, undergraduate MCH students gain first-hand experience with the career path for MCH professionals and learn how their current undergraduate training is part of the broader field of Maternal and Child Health. At the same time, MCH graduate students/recent graduates have an opportunity to mentor an MCH trainee who is their junior. As both the graduate and undergraduate students receive leadership training and skills in team building and team work, we anticipate that these MCH undergraduate and graduate student pairs will emerge from their state Title V program experiences with substantial understanding of the work of MCH practice and the effects of health transformation, confidence in their own abilities to work as part of a team to improve MCH public health, and secure in their own strengths to continue to develop as emerging leaders in the MCH public health workforce.
In summer 2014, our two "Paired Practica" teams were located in state Title V programs in Iowa and Maryland. Jaimie Lea from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Quiana Washington from Howard University have been working with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Bureau of Family Health (BFH). The student team developed more than 20 Data Detail Sheets on MCH topics for distribution to stakeholders to aid in the needs assessment prioritization processes. The pair of students has also been conducting and analyzing the results of focus groups, anticipating the Title V MCH Services Block Grant needs assessment. According to Ms. Washington, "Before I came to Iowa I had a basic knowledge of MCH, Title V and needs assessment so coming here right after I have learned about it in school and being able to apply what I have learned has been amazing and eye opening."
Rindcy Davis from Tulane University and Brian Hicks from Howard University have been working with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Family Planning and Home Visiting (OFPHV). Their primary task has been to update an annual MCH data publication by collecting and analyzing existing data from diverse sources (U.S. census data, Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, vital statistics, cancer registry). The student pair also assisted in the creation of a Maryland adolescent health data publication, crafting a gender neutral reproductive health plan brochure, and editing reproductive health summary briefs. Ms. Davis states: "The practicum experience has been full of great people and great learning experiences. Everyone at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been very welcoming and open to teaching us about their job. I am learning a lot about the state of women's health within Maryland."
And from the Iowa practicum coordinator Debra J. Kane, PhD, RN, MCH epidemiologist-CDC assignee, Bureau of Family Health, Iowa Department of Public Health: "The internship program was a "win-win" experience. The interns were able to get hands-on experience with a state health department and learn about how Title V serves the MCH population. IDPH benefitted through the contribution that the interns made to the Title V needs assessment. Namely, with the assistance of Quiana and Jaimie, we conducted focus groups of Title V service recipients. This the first year we will be able to include qualitative data in the Title V needs assessment. These qualitative data will add to the richness of our Title V needs assessment. "
"Paired Practica" opportunities for both Title V programs in states and territories and students will be available for the 2014-2015 year; the application process will open in the fall of 2014. To learn more about the "Paired Practice" program and other National MCH Workforce Development Center activities, please contact Amy Mullenix, senior collaboration manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-843-4457 or visit amchp.org/Transformation-Station/Pages/Home.aspx.