There are 13 Maternal & Child Health (MCH) Masters of Public Health (MPH) Training Programs supported by the MCH Bureau (MCHB) and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The goal of the training programs is to educate and prepare the next generation of MCH leaders to ensure the health of our nation’s families and children. Each training program utilizes different strategies to ensure the trainees are prepared, but a common requirement of all programs is education and training on the MCH Leadership Competencies.

The MCH Training Programs were developed in alignment with the strategic plan created by the MCHB to ensure that MCH leaders “have the vision, expertise, and skills to provide the leadership needed to design and implement policies and programs to assure that children grow into competent, independent, nurturing, and caring adults”. 1 The leadership competencies were born out of that as a way to measure whether or not trainees were in fact rising to become leaders in the field.

The competencies are outlined in three main areas: self, others, and wider community.1 Self includes increasing one’s learning through reading, self reflection, instruction, and other experiences.1 Others includes leadership amongst fellow classmates, coworkers, colleagues, and practitioners.1 Wider community is defined as organizations, systems, and institutions.1 Each of the 3 areas have specific competencies. There are 12 total competencies among the areas of self, others, and wider community.1 Some of the competencies include MCH knowledge base, ethics & professionalism, negotiation & conflict resolution, and policy & advocacy. 1 To measure progress, trainees take a competency self assessment before beginning the MPH program and once completed.

Here at UIC, one unique way we are working towards MCH leadership is by utilizing Clifton Strengths Finder, a product of the Gallup Organization. If you’re unfamiliar with Strengths Finder, it is an online survey that asks questions about an individual’s likes and dislikes and provides responses on a Likert-type Scale. Individuals complete the assessment and in the end are provided with their top five strengths out of a total thirty four possible strengths. The underlying assumption of Strengths Finder is that each person innately has a unique combination of strengths that they bring to any given situation. Strengths Finder helps to identify those strengths to allow the individual to build on them personally and professionally. Each person in our first year MCH cohort completed the assessment. We each were provided with an outline of what our individual strengths meant, how they would serve us well personally and professionally, as well as some tools for personal reflection. Additionally, we were provided with a chart that highlighted every student in the cohorts strengths along with a quick guide to what each strength meant. Conversations took place about what characteristics were unique to each strength as well as tips regarding how to best work together both in the classroom and in the workforce. Utilizing Strengths Quest, or any similar assessment, is an excellent exercise because it utilizes positive psychology to provide a safe space to have discussions about teamwork and leadership while also giving individuals a starting point for individual reflection. Additionally, it provided us with a better understanding of our peers and increased appreciation for the strengths of others. It was an excellent addition to our academic training in the competency areas of self and others.

To find out more about MCH Leadership 3.0 visit:

http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/WorkforceDevelopment/Pages/MCH-Leadership-Competencies.aspx

To learn more about Strengths Finder visit:

https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=webad&utm_campaign=strengthsdashboard

References:
1 MCH Leadership Competencies Workgroup. (2009). Maternal and child health leadership competencies version 3.0.

Written by Michelle Chavdar, Research Assistant and UIC MPH Candidate