Professional Learning that Works for You

By Hilary Merlin posted 03-28-2023 12:41


If you’re like most mission-driven public health professionals, you give your best effort at work every day, your organization supports your development, and you’re given chances to learn and grow.[1] Whether you’re new to the field with no formal training in public or a seasoned practitioner with an advanced degree, professional development matters. Continuing to build knowledge and skills can help you succeed on the job, prepare for career advancement, and become a better leader.

To help you identify specific areas for professional growth, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has created the Chronic Disease Competencies Self-Assessment. This 90-item assessment is based on the Chronic Disease Competencies and takes about 30 minutes to complete. You’ll get your results immediately, along with recommendations for which of the seven competency areas (see wheel below) to focus your professional learning on.

Once you have a good sense of your professional learning needs, it’s time to identify high-quality training opportunities that match your priorities. There’s an abundance of learning opportunities available to public health professionals. Some top resources include CDC TRAIN, HRSA’s Regional Public Health Training Centers, and NNPHI’s Public Health Learning Navigator. But for competency-based training created by chronic disease practitioners for chronic disease practitioners, NACDD is your premier source. NACDD’s Program Menu highlights the variety of free opportunities for workforce development offered throughout the year.

For those short on time or with challenging schedules, the most convenient kind of learning is likely to be asynchronous (on-demand) online training. NACDD’s Online Learning Center exists with this in mind—to allow you to decide which courses to take as well as where, when, and how quickly to complete them. The Online Learning Center contains over 24 free competency-based courses that support the professional development of public health professionals who focus on chronic disease prevention and control. Most take less than one hour to complete, and new courses are added on an ongoing basis.

Again, your results from your Competencies Self-Assessment can be helpful when selecting courses in the Online Learning Center. For example, if Influence Policy and Systems Change is an identified priority area for you, you may consider participating in these courses:

  • Leadership Basics: Systems Thinking
  • Using the NACDD Legislative Tracker
  • Working with Elected Officials

In addition to being used for individual professional development, managers and supervisors have the option of using courses in the Online Learning Center as part of new employee onboarding and team professional development. The team at NACDD’s Center for Public Health Leadership is available to help you explore how to best use the Online Learning Center and other NACDD offerings. Please contact us for more information.

Why do you value professional development? What does being a lifelong learner mean to you? How can NACDD and the Online Learning Center help you reach your full professional potential? Let us know in the comments below.

[1] de Beaumont Foundation and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey: 2021 Dashboard. August 3, 2022.