The public health workforce is a diverse field comprising of physicians, nurses, administrators, educators and other allied health positions that serve to promote disease prevention and management as well as promote healthy lifestyle and behavior within the community. Public health workers can often be found in local health centers that are run by the government as well as a handful of non-governmental organizations. Public health workers often have a university degree in the field of health and medicine and nursing in particular for physicians and nurses while some may have degrees in health service administration, biostatistics, psychology, epidemiology, and health education to name a few.
There are a lot of competencies that can be demonstrated in the field of Public Health. In the field of public health, the concept of leadership is broader in context because anyone can be a leader and take the initiative. This is attributed to the fact that a public health worker carries a certain authority and expertise in health promotion and disease prevention. Leadership within the healthcare field needs to shift towards becoming patient-centered, focusing on quality and holistic care. Leadership is not only concerned with the daily and mundane tasks that allow units to function efficiently and productively. Leadership is also concerned with the provision of a safe and secure environment for patients and treating these patients with the utmost respect and dignity.
It is important therefore that leaders in the field of public health must become principle-centered by utilizing ethical and moral standards in developing policies and during the process of decision making. Leaders should be able to actively listen to their subordinates and see things from various perspectives, not just their own. It is also important for a leader to communicate a clear and coherent vision for his organization that will say something concrete about the organization’s future or to where it is headed (Nanus, 1992).
Joint Task Group on Public Health Human Resources; Advisory Committee on Health Delivery & Human Resources; Advisory Committee on Population Health & Health Security. Building the public health workforce for the 21st century. [Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada], 2005
Nanus, B. Visionary leadership: Creating a compelling sense of direction for your organization. [San Francisco: Jossey-Bass], 1992