Maternal and child health supplement provides strategies to strengthen the workforce

September 7, 2022

Leslie deRosset

Dorothy Cilenti

Dr. Dorothy Cilenti

Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH ’09 (public health leadership), and Leslie deRosset, MPH ’98, MSPH ’15  (maternal and child health), in the UNC Gillings Department of Maternal and Child Health, are among the co-editors of a special supplement to the Maternal and Child Health Journal, along with Michelle Menser Tissue, MPH, CPH, of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The special issue, published with support from HRSA, is titled “Developing and Strengthening the Current and Future MCH Public Health Workforce: Building Capacity, Aligning Systems and Addressing Emerging Challenges.” The articles cover a wide range of topics related to the work of providing continuing education and workforce development to those working in state and local maternal and child health, addressing subjects such as the success of workforce development efforts, the implementation of equity programs, and the need to build a strong pipeline ready to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century.

“This special issue helps to fill a gap in the peer-reviewed literature on the MCH public health workforce by sharing original research, commentaries, innovations and program evaluations that can advance efforts to develop the current and future MCH workforce,” said Cilenti, associate professor of MCH and director of both the National Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center (Workforce Development Center) and the Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center (MHLIC), housed in the MCH department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The Workforce Development Center provides continuing professional development and tailored assistance and support to state-level MCH departments working to solve critical problems related to equity, child and maternal welfare, and the delivery of services to maternal and child populations. The MHLIC was founded in 2019 through a cooperative agreement with HRSA to work with states and rural regions to share best practices and address disparities in maternal and child health, especially as it relates to preventing maternal death and morbidity.

Since its founding, the Workforce Development Center has worked with more than 1,500 Title V professionals and their partners across 45 states. The MHLIC has provided training and support to more than 4,500 professionals through its trainings and in-person consultations.

Findings from the 2021 PH WINS survey of the MCH workforce by the de Beaumont Foundation show that the majority of state-level personnel implementing programs to improve maternal and child health do not hold degrees in public health. Furthermore, many in the public health workforce are suffering from high levels of burnout and indicate that they do not intend to stay in their current positions. In light of challenges in MCH that existed before and were exacerbated by the pandemic, more work is needed ensure findings from public health research and practice are utilized to strengthen the MCH workforce.

The Maternal and Child Health department at UNC Gillings is one of 13 national Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice. The overall mission of these centers is to support graduate and postdoctoral MCH training to prepare the next generation of public health leaders focused on improving the health of women, infants, children, youth and their families.

The forthcoming online special issue will be available in September 2022. Please visit https://mchwdc.unc.edu/  for more information about the special issue and individual articles, which are currently available online.

Save the Date! September 9th, 12:30pm – 2pm ET to learn more about three articles featured in the upcoming MCH Journal Special Issue “Developing and Strengthening the Current and Future MCH Public Health Workforce: Building Capacity, Aligning Systems and Addressing Emerging Challenges.” Lauren Raskin Ramos (HRSA MCHB), Isabella Guynn (UNC SPH) and James (Jimmy) Dills (Georgia Health Policy Center) will each present an overview of their manuscripts included in the special issue of Maternal and Child Health Journal and describe how they leverage opportunities that support and strengthen the MCH public health workforce.  Registration is required.

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