The public health field is one of the most important fields in our society, as it seeks to protect and promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities. As a result, it is essential that public health professionals are adequately prepared to address the unique needs of individuals and communities of color, who are often disproportionately exposed to health disparities and health inequities. The workforce needs the capacity to approach each component of its work (including the planning and implementation of programs) with health equity, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in mind.
During 2020-2021, the Public Health Training Center Network (PHTCN) in collaboration with the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training (NCCPHT) housed at the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), coordinated developmental events for the creation of a racial justice competency model to support the public health workforce’s capacity-building efforts. Through a network workgroup and an Expert Review Panel, the group sought to establish clear, specific, consensus-based recommendations for the production of a Racial Justice Competency Model for Public Health Professionals (RJCM). See the RJCM website for more information.
The RJCM is designed for the public health field to ensure the workforce is able to understand and address the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture, and health. The model aims to provide public health professionals with a resource to reflect upon the knowledge, skills, and values needed to provide equitable, culturally competent care and services to all individuals and communities, regardless of race or ethnicity. Moreover, this model helps ensure public health professionals are trained to identify and address structural and institutional racism, which is a major driver of health disparities in the United States.
The following outlines the steps of the model development process:
The first step began with the 10 PHTCs and NNPHI to identify existing competency statements and frameworks being used in training development and strategic planning efforts. The resulting competency library comprised over 650 statements relevant to health equity and racial justice.
The second step consisted of convening an Expert Review Panel (ERP) to help prioritize competency statements and provide feedback and suggestions throughout the process. The ERP was a group of 35 public health practitioners from state, local, and tribal public health departments; federal government agencies such as the CDC; non-governmental organizations, and academics from various schools of public health across the country.
The third step involved the ERP members and the RJCM work team creating draft models from an iterative development process, including monthly meetings to discuss the model’s utility, the organizing framework that should be used, including domains and tiers. The ERP provided insight into the competency statements’ applicability and relevance in providing staff with the tools to combat racism in their public health work.
The fourth step was validation, ensuring that the model reflected the necessary and practical knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to address racism in public health practice. This included a survey administered to the expert review panel and feedback from town hall meetings held in Spring 2022.
The final step includes finalization and distribution. Based on the results of the validation phase, the PHTCN refined and finalized Version 1 of the model. Version 1 was launched on rjcmph.org on October 1, 2023. This model will be periodically reviewed and revised to ensure it remains relevant for public health practitioners.
From October 2022 to May 2023, public health professionals have downloaded the RJCM more than 1,600 times. The top four intended uses include:
- Developing job descriptions and use in the hiring process (29%),
- Performance reviews (29%),
- Personal skill improvement or assessment (21%),
- Organizational policy assessment (15%).
The majority of the feedback strongly agreed that the Racial Justice Competencies:
- Will help guide and inform the work of public health practitioners, particularly those in governmental public health
- Can be utilized both at an individual level and organizational level
- Can assist in identifying and developing training
However, there are numerous potential uses for the RJCM, and the PHTCN encourages all public health entities to explore how it can benefit and expand their racial justice work.
Resources and Links
Link to the RJCM for download: https://rjcmph.org/
The RJCM Toolkit was created to support the implementation of the RJCM offering relevant tools and insight to public health practitioners: https://rjcmph.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/RJCM-Toolkit.-v1.pdf
Recent articles published on the RJCM:
- Moving from Conversation to Action: Developing a Racial Justice Competency Model for Public Health Professionals
- ‘More than a Checkbox’: How Public Health Training Centers Are Advancing Racial Justice
Please reach out to us at RJCM@nnphi.org if you have any questions or to learn more.