Skip Navigation Links
July/August 2019Expand July/August 2019
May/June 2019Expand May/June 2019
March/April 2019Expand March/April 2019
January/February 2019Expand January/February 2019
November/December 2018Expand November/December 2018
September/October 2018Expand September/October 2018
July/August 2018Expand July/August 2018
May/June 2018Expand May/June 2018
March/April 2018Expand March/April 2018
January/February 2018Expand January/February 2018
July/August 2017Expand July/August 2017
May/June 2017Expand May/June 2017
March/April 2017Expand March/April 2017
January/February 2017Expand January/February 2017
November/December 2016Expand November/December 2016
July/August 2016Expand July/August 2016
May/June 2016Expand May/June 2016
March/April 2016Expand March/April 2016
January/February 2016Expand January/February 2016
November/December 2015Expand November/December 2015
July/August 2015Expand July/August 2015
May/June 2015Expand May/June 2015
March/April 2015Expand March/April 2015
January/February 2015Expand January/February 2015
ArchiveExpand Archive
November/December 2017Expand November/December 2017
PulseTemplate
September/October 2015Expand September/October 2015
September/October 2016Expand September/October 2016
September/October 2017Expand September/October 2017
Special Edition - EPRExpand Special Edition - EPR
Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance MeetingExpand Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance Meeting
Title V Technical Assistance Meeting

 From the President: Why MCH Reminds Me of Gardening

Eileen Forlenza.jpgBy Michael Warren
President of the Board of Directors, AMCHP

It's summertime. And in my backyard, the garden is just starting to yield the fruits (or vegetables, actually!) of several months of preparation, careful attention, and yes, even some laborious weeding! If you've ever had a garden or cared for someone else's, you know that the vegetables don't just suddenly appear. A good garden takes work.

It turns out that being an maternal and child health (MCH) leader is a lot like being a gardener. The ultimate harvest is a healthy and thriving MCH population. But a key ingredient in getting there is a robust MCH workforce. Here are some thoughts on how to further develop your "green thumb" and support your own MCH workforce to be the best that it can be.

  • Prepare the soil — Create a culture that supports people to do their best every day. It's no secret that MCH professionals aren't drawn to the field for the vast sums of money they will make. Instead, they often cite the benefits of working on a team committed to the health of children and families. Invest the time in creating an environment that others want to join and where existing team members feel nurtured and supported. Particularly in times of change and uncertainty, attention to culture is important. Your team members will be able to weather changes in funding, new priorities, and emerging population needs if you've created a culture where they feel safe and supported.
  • watering-2389940_640.jpgFertilize and water — Once you've planted seeds, your job is far from over. You've got to nurture the seeds until they sprout, then support a fragile plant as it grows big and strong. Similarly, your job as a leader isn't done once you make a hire for your MCH team — it is just beginning. Supporting your team members through ongoing professional development is key to help them develop, maintain, and sharpen their skills to function at their best. There are lots of ways to do this: participation in AMCHP webinars or peer learning groups, technical assistance on special projects or MCH performance measures, and even attendance at the AMCHP Annual Conference.
  • Check on the health of your plants regularly — Gardeners are always vigilant for signs of the health of their plants. Yellow leaves might signify overwatering, while drooping leaves might indicate the need for additional water. Tiny holes might indicate an insect infestation. Once gardeners see these signs, they have to act. Similarly, an MCH leader needs to keep her finger on the pulse of her team. Employee engagement surveys, reverse feedback sessions, or other listening efforts provide an opportunity to hear how your team members are doing and to learn how you might better support their growth.
  • Attend a master gardening class yourself — Good gardeners are always learning how to be better. They might read a gardening journal or join a master gardening class offered through their local extension service. So, too, must leaders continue to build their capacity to support their MCH teams. Committing to your own ongoing professional development is key in being able to lead your team in accomplishing its mission. Fortunately, there are resources to support you in these efforts, including AMCHP's Leadership Lab and the MCH Workforce Development Center . 

As your MCH professional home, AMCHP has tools and resources to support your efforts to cultivate successful MCH teams that can work toward reaping a harvest of improved health and well-being for the MCH population. Check out the items in this edition of Pulse that can help you in your own backyard "garden!"