University of Washington School of Public Health
"I personally gained a better understanding of what it means to bring people together to achieve a goal that will benefit the whole even when one may suffer."
Jared Keefer-MPH Extended Degree Program, Health Services
Practicum Site: Yakima Health District
I personally gained a better understanding of what it means to bring people together to achieve a goal that will benefit the whole even when one may suffer.
This practicum afforded me the ability to utilize project and personnel management skills toward an end result. My project was to create, assemble and implement the initial stages of a strategic plan for the Yakima Health District. The practicum was successfully completed on time.
I aided in the development of the Public Health Improvement Plan for the Yakima Health District and helped to develop the agency's Strategic Plan. I formed and facilitated work groups, gave presentations, attended meetings throughout the state, facilitated cooperation within the agency and beyond. The final product of the strategic planning process was the composition of the strategic plan. Once completed, it was submitted to the Yakima Health District Board of Health for content and ratification.
From this practicum, I was able to realize that management was not about being technically competent in a subject, but more about bringing the best out of team members and managing activities to attain the end result. Sure, being technically competent is advantageous, but it is not what brings multidisciplinary teams together. Leadership and communication, at the end of the day, is what accomplishes the tasks at hand. The scope of the work was such that I had to learn new skills quickly and utilize them effectively. Although I was already familiar with the contacts used in the agency to fulfill the practicum, the resources and skills learned will undoubtedly assist me in my future endeavors and growth in the public health field.
My future recommendation for students pursuing a practicum in strategic planning is to be well prepared by utilizing others past experience. I learned as the process went on, but could have benefited greatly from some extra time spent with others who had ungergone the experience before. Literature was great for learning the process of strategic planning, but the interpersonal and management skills needed to direct the process was, by far, something that is to be learned. Preparation for what to expect from the participants would also have been beneficial.