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Cross Cutting Work: Public Health Workforce Development

State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) 2021-2025



Healthy People 2030 focuses on promoting the health, well-being, education, and training of the workforce, including the public health and health care workforce.

The delivery of high-quality services and products requires a strong workforce. Businesses and employers have an important role to play in strengthening the workforce by helping to improve health and well-being, for example, by offering employee health promotion programs (- Healthy People 2030).


A strong public health workforce is vital to protecting the public’s health. A well-trained public health workforce is our first line of defense to prevent disease, protect health, and keep people safe. Workforce development in public health aims to improve health outcomes by enhancing the training, skills, and performance of public health workers. The steps we take now will have an impact for years to come. Those who we inspire now to pursue careers in public health will be the public health leaders of tomorrow, ready to address the challenges of the future.  Within this priority area, the ADH in collaboration with its community partners will address these issues by highlighting the training, skills and performance of public health workers (- Public Health Foundation; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).


The ADH and its community partners aim to implement strategies to improve public health workforce capacity and quality in Arkansas.


Priority Area - Public Health Workforce Development
Goals, Strategies, and Objectives
Time Period
Current Actual Value
Current Target Value
Current Trend
Baseline % Change
SHIP Partners
  • Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
  • Arkansas Department of Education
  • Arkansas Department of Health
  • Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care
  • Arkansas Hospital Association
  • Arkansas Public Health Association
  • Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health
  • University of Akansas Medical School (UAMS) College of Public Health
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Workforce Development Action Plan lists five shared priorities for the CDC and other public health partners.                      
  1. Data for Decisions: Collect needed data about workforce gaps and training needs to inform decisions about public health workforce development.
  2. Crosscutting Competencies: Promote essential crosscutting skills to complement public health workers’ discipline-specific skills.
  3. Quality Standards for Training: Use accepted education and training standards to guide investments towards high quality products.
  4. Training Decision Tools and Access: Provide tools for public health workers to define their training needs and locate high-quality trainings that address these needs.
  5. Funding Integration: Integrate workforce development into funding requirements to build workforce capacity and improve program outcomes.
Sources: Public Health Workforce Development Strategies:


The Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development (DSEPD) strengthens and develops the public health workforce, America’s first line of defense against disease outbreaks and other health threats​. The DSEPD takes an evidence-based and collaborative approach to strengthening and developing the public health workforce. Our activities support COVID-19 and future emergency responses, data modernization, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in public health. We focus on proactive program planning and development so that we are ready to respond when new needs arise, building on our existing programs, experiences, and lessons learned.

Our approach is guided by three strategies: 
  • Recruit: Attract a More Diverse and Qualified Public Health Sciences Workforce
  • Train: Build the Skills of the Current and Future Workforce
  • Forecast: Plan for Tomorrow’s Workforce through Our Actions Today


Key outcomes from the Fifth Annual Report of Diversity in the Arkansas Health Care Workforce include:

  • The majority of workers in health occupations are male including physicians, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and podiatrists. Dental hygienists (99 percent female), dieticians (96 percent female), specialty surgeons (93 percent male), licensed practical nurses (93 percent female), and speech therapists (96 percent female) were occupations with less than 10 percent in a gender field. Pharmacists and physical therapists enjoyed the most equity in terms of gender.
  • Each profession was predominately white. In fact, there were only six professions (i.e., general physicans, speciality physicians, nurses (LPN, RN and Specialty nurses), pharmacists, podiatrists and social workers) in which the proportion of white workers was less than 90 percent. Optometrists were 97 percent white, making them the least diverse profession with respect to race, whereas social workers were 77 percent white and 19 percent African American, making them the most diverse group in 2018. Race was not available for dental assistants at the time of reporting.
  • Geographic distribution followed a similar pattern for most professions. The highest concentration of workers tended to be in the central, northwest and northeast regions of the state (i.e., the more urban areas of the state). Some professions were absent in a large number of counties. Specialty surgeons, for example, lacked active professionals in 45 counties, and general surgeons lacked professionals in 28 counties. Other professions enjoyed much greater dispersion. For example, pharmacists, physical therapists and social workers appeared to be active in all 75 counties.
  • Despite the legislative mandate requiring licensing boards to capture and report data on demographic characteristics of those licensed in Arkansas, data were not consistently provided. Three of the seventeen healthcare professions covered in this report failed to report some or all of the required demographic data, compared to 3/17 in 2017, 4/17 in 2016 and 7/17 in 2015.
Why Is This Important?

Public health infrastructure provides communities, states, and the nation with the capacity to prevent disease, promote health, and prepare for and respond to both ongoing challenges and emerging threats to health. Essential public health services depend on the presence of a basic infrastructure, including a trained and competent workforce, strong data and information systems, and public health organizations that can assess and respond to community health needs. While a strong infrastructure depends on many partners, government public health agencies and health departments play a central role in a solid public health infrastructure.


The goal of SHIP is to advance health outcomes of Arkansans by providing a strong and diverse public health workforce. This will be accomplished by employing meaningful strategies by first ascertaining the strengths and gaps of the current workforce. 

Outcome Measures

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

Scorecard Container Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy