Online Program

Creating learning circles in public health: Practice-based, online, quality improvement training for rural local health departments

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Ruth Wetta, RN, PhD, MPH, MSN, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Wichita, KS
Lisette Jacobson, PhD, MPA, MA, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Wichita, KS
Virginia Elliott, United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Hutchinson, KS
Background: Geographic distance and workforce capacity may create barriers to effective public health training that supports the learning needs for rural health departments. The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, in collaboration with the Kansas Workforce Development Group, designed, implemented and evaluated an online quality improvement training using “just-in-time”, experiential adult learning methods, and long-term technical assistance.

Methods: A five-module, 32-week program was developed using the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle. Modules included (1) QI methods, (2) measures and data collection, (3) data management in Excel, (4) data analysis and (5) reporting and presentation of results. Materials included the Public Health Memory Jogger, headsets and recorded demonstrations and easy-to-use materials available online. Weekly sessions included lecture, discussion and application using their own data. Assignments were shared during the following session. Results: Training began in July 2012 (two sessions per week for 20 weeks, and then twice monthly). Additionally, one-on-one online meetings were conducted to meet individual learning. Within six months, a total of 64 sessions had been held with each session lasting 1.5 hours with 6-9 attendees per session. Participants represented LHDs in the 7 of 15 public health regions. To date, participants have compiled quality improvement plans including a logic model, data collection instruments, data collection plans, data entry into an excel spreadsheet, have begun analysis by performing perform calculations and creating graphs in excel and have initiated data analysis, interpretation, report writing and presentations. The results of pre-post surveys indicate increased confidence to perform new skills, particularly in the use of Excel.

Conclusions: The “Learning Circle” online training and technical assistance program appears to be an effective and efficient method to increase the capacities of LHD staff. This innovative multi-county, pilot project has the potential to serve as a national model for workforce development in rural states.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Discuss online, “just-in-time” quality improvement training for local health department staff in rural communities using adult experiential education methods and long-term technical assistance. Differentiate the pros, cons, benefits and barriers to long-term, online just-in-time training for local health departments.

Keyword(s): Workforce, Quality Improvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, teach in the master of public health program and have 20 years of experience in quality improvement theory, methods and application.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.