Lab Matters Winter 2023 | Page 34


APHL ’ s Emerging Leaders Address Challenges in Recruitment and Retention at Public Health Labs

By Marisa Barley , member , Cohort 16 , APHL Emerging Leader Program and senior specialist , Systems , Training and Workforce Development
Recruitment and retention continue to be two of the biggest issues facing public health laboratories . According to APHL ’ s 2022 Laboratory Workforce Profile Survey , 42 % of the public health laboratory workforce intend to leave their current laboratory within four years , with low salary and a lack of career advancement as the top reasons for leaving .
When Cohort 16 of APHL ’ s Emerging Leader Program ( ELP ) met for the first time in Seattle , WA in September 2022 , there was an overwhelming consensus that recruitment and retention were two crucial workforce development topics to address . During this time , and after many months of hard work and improving their leadership skills , Cohort members produced two projects to address recruitment and retention concerns at public health laboratories — the Public Health Laboratory Ambassador Program and the Employee Advocacy Workbook .
The Ambassador Program is aimed at recruiting the next generation of the public health laboratory workforce and relies on volunteer Ambassadors to work in conjunction with the APHL Academic Partnership team and their home public health laboratory institution . Anyone currently or previously employed within the public health sector is welcome to complete an interest form . Becoming an Ambassador may sound daunting but resources were created to support outreach efforts , including an outreach email template , flyers and a presentation . Ambassadors are also added to a ColLABorate group for discussions on successes , challenges and opportunities within the program . Ambassadors are expected to participate in one documented and approved event per academic calendar year .
The Employee Advocacy Workbook is a platform built to facilitate straightforward communication between public health laboratory bench scientists and their supervisory staff to address employee communication challenges in hopes of increasing retention . The Workbook is flexible and adaptable for different management structures at all levels . The Workbook has two parts : one for employees to conduct a self-assessment and another for supervisors to assess their team . These tools include discussion topics for self-advocacy and improving communication , ideas for boosting employee morale , methods for rewards and recognition and a professional development tracker .
ELP Cohort 16 piloted these projects in their own laboratories with great success and are thrilled to share them with other public health laboratory staff looking to increase staff retention at their laboratories and recruit the next generation of the public health workforce . For any additional questions related to the Public Health Laboratory Ambassador Program , please contact academic . partnerships @ aphl . org . g
The APHL Emerging Leader Program brings together a cohort of laboratory professionals for a 12-month program of skill development workshops , networking opportunities , leadership exercises and project development . For more information about APHL ’ s Emerging Leader Program , please contact leadership @ aphl . org .
This article was 100 % funded with federal funds from a federal program of $ 4,645,651 . The production of this article was supported by Cooperative Agreement # U60OE000104 funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of , nor an endorsement by , CDC , HHS or the US Government .
32 LAB MATTERS Winter 2023
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