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January 2016

Last modified 2016-03-30 12:48

Today in Public Health

Recruiting the next generation of public health workers

PH Wins is a survey that was released last year about the state of the public health workforce on a national level. More than 10,000 public health workers from 37 states took part. Two key findings of the survey include the high tendency of female employees over male (72 percent female compared to 28 percent of men), as well as the average age of 48 for public health workers. 
How do these statistics stack up here in Washington State? H.E.R.E. spoke with Linda Riggle, a recruiter at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to learn more. 
How do these statistics look at your place of employment?
Pretty similar. At DOH, we have a workforce of 68 percent women and 32 percent men.
How about the age groups represented at work? How do they compare?
Only 28.4 percent of our workforce is made up of people younger than 40. However, we have a couple of workgroups at DOH that are working towards attracting the next generation of public health workers.  
What are you doing to attract the next generation of public health workers?
We know that to compete with other public and private sector employers, we need to offer more in terms of flexibility, mobility and work/life balance. DOH is starting several new ways to approach work with mentors, succession planning, telecommuting and allowing new parents to bring their infants to work. We also try to speak their language during the recruitment process, such as using social media to post job openings and using Skype, FaceTime to interview candidates from out-of-state.
 For more information, contact Linda Riggle at
Inspiring Work from Your Peers
Getting Started After a New Diagnosis

 Maryam Jafari, Project Coordinator at the Center for Children with Special Needs at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommended co-workers Andrea Barry-Smith, Lawrie Williams and Lyn Kratz for their work on Getting Started After a New Diagnosis. H.E.R.E. spoke with the women to learn more about it.
What did you create?
A web-based resource full of links and video clips of parents sharing some of what they have learned over time is intended to support parents of a newly diagnosed child with special healthcare needs. It is meant to support parents as they navigate new feelings, information, relationships and systems.  It addresses four questions:
  • How will I ever do this?
  • What is my role on the healthcare team?
  • Where do I begin?
  • How will I change over time? 
What was the inspiration behind this resource?
We know how important parents are in their child’s healthcare and how few resources exist to help them feel more confident and competent working together with healthcare providers in a collaborative way. While there are resources for providers and healthcare staff to build their capacity to partner, there is little for parents beyond trial and error. Knowing one of the strongest ways to build confidence is by seeing one’s peers be successful (“If they can do it, I can too”). We wanted the video clips to highlight real parents in hopeful and practical ways. 
What kind of feedback have you received? 
Our page went live in late September 2015. We have been promoting it with parents and caregivers and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. From a nurse: “This is amazing! I can’t wait to share it with parents.” From a parent: “Oh, how wish I had this two years ago.  I felt isolated and overwhelmed.  This is so supportive and encouraging.”
Material Spotlight
HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention

 January is cervical cancer awareness month. In recognition of this national health observance, the Department of Health has released a video of a guided conversation with Lori Stone, a cervical cancer survivor, and Dr. Yolanda Evans, a pediatrician who focuses on teenagers.  Both Stone and Evans speak from their own unique perspectives about why they are advocates for the HPV vaccine, which protects women from a common cause of cervical cancer. Watch the video on the Department of Health’s YouTube channel.
For more information, contact Ann Butler at
What’s Happening at Department of Health?
Department of Health Launches New Tool

The Department of Health (DOH) is pleased to announce a new information by location (IBL) mapping tool on the Washington Tracking Network (WTN). The IBL allows people to compare the health of communities at a census tract level. More specifically, the IBL tracks health disparities and lead exposure risk.
Members of DOH’s Healthy Equity Workgroup identified the need to launch an IBL more than two years ago. The workgroup partnered with WTN to create the tool. Now that it has launched, the aim of the IBL is to use it as a starting point for conversations about health disparities and lead exposure risk and where to focus efforts on resources.
The IBL was first introduced to local health jurisdictions and tribes in the state, with other partners and public also welcome to use the tool.
Please direct any questions, comments or feedback as follows:
  • Regarding the data, the IBL mapping tool or requesting your data be added to WTN, contact
  • Regarding efforts to promote healthy equity and resources on health disparities, contact
  • Regarding DOH’s Lead Program and new screening guidelines for lead exposure risk, contact
Something to Think About:
Are young athletes being worn out?

In theaters now, the movie Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith). The immigrant doctor discovered that former National Football League (NFL) players who had suffered from multiple concussions had a new brain disease Omalu called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NFL initially rejected the idea of CTE and Concussion tells the story of how Omalu worked with the league to understand its seriousness.
While CTE is still a hot topic for the NFL, football players aren’t the only athletes at high risk for developing it. Professional hockey players, soccer players and wrestlers—and even child athletes—are at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 30 million children participate in youth sports every year in the United States. More than three million of these children receive medical treatment each year due to overuse injuries in their arms, legs, hips or lower abdomen.
Both CTE and overuse injuries are highly preventable if coaches, parents and athletes education themselves on prevention. The nonprofit organization, Stop Sports Injuries, offers the following tips for preventing injuries:
  • Reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of activity
  • Keep a balance between easy and difficult workout sessions and incorporate cross-training
  • Learn proper training and technique from a coach or athletic trainer
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Use ice for minor aches and pain
  • Use anti-inflammatory medication as necessary


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