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ETSU chosen as one of six universities to lead public health workforce research

East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is joining five other universities across the country for a multi-million dollar project to conduct robust public health workforce research, evaluation, and analysis.

This is supported by a first-of-its-kind joint $4.7 million cooperative agreement from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The six participating institutions are:

  • University of Minnesota
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Columbia University
  • Indiana University
  • University of Washington
  • East Tennessee State University

The unique collaboration is called the Consortium for Workforce Research in Public Health (CWORPH). Led by the Center for Public Health Systems at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH), CWORPH’s research will look at what drives turnover, ways to recruit and retain staff, and how to fill workforce gaps.

Among the consortium members, ETSU will lead studies focused on the needs of public health workers serving in rural jurisdictions.

“COVID-19 and other public health emergencies have strained our national, state, and local public health systems,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the ETSU College of Public Health in this release. “This strain is particularly acute in our rural jurisdictions where we have fewer public health workers with more limited resources. We are excited to be a part of CWORPH and to ensure that the public health needs of our nation’s rural communities are a part of this important research opportunity.”

Each of the six consortium members has a deep and longstanding commitment to the mission of public health and the sustainable development of its workforce, including increasing diverse public health staff that represents the communities they serve; public health staff retention; efficient public health workforce systems and processes; and capabilities to implement public health advances.

On the ground with practice-oriented partners, the consortium’s work will include quantitative and qualitative research to better understand public health workforce needs; large-scale survey data collection and analysis; economic analysis to understand options for resource allocation; and health equity research with a focus on the needs of racial, ethnic minority and rural communities.

“The institutions that are a part of this consortium serve diverse communities and regions from across the United States,” said ETSU lead Michael Meit, co-director of ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research. “With funding from HRSA and CDC, and the support of our consortium partners, we look forward to bringing voice to the rural public health workforce and ensuring that CWORPH’s rigorous, practice-oriented research includes analyses based on the unique geographic factors that impact rural public health practice.”

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