Over the past several months, NACCHO staff have developed a Policy Scholars Program that provides graduate-level students with the opportunity to draft policy statements on behalf of NACCHO, work with staff members to receive feedback, and then present the statement to the appropriate NACCHO workgroup for review. Students have the opportunity to learn about a practice-based policy development process, which ultimately will be reviewed by the NACCHO Board of Trustees prior to approval as an official policy statement.
On Jan. 31, NACCHO’s Preparedness Team hosted three students from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services–Kathryn Martucci, Rachel Dukes, and Meg Nash, along with their professor, Dr. Rebecca Katz–for a Policy Scholars Orientation. These three students drafted potential policy statements as part of their take-home final exam last semester in Dr. Katz’s policy class that focuses on public health preparedness, and due to their strong performance they were selected to edit and refine their statements with NACCHO staff. The three statement topics–public health preparedness planning, local workforce development and training in emergency preparedness, and community resilience–were selected as a result of a strategic planning workshop in October where NACCHO staff prioritized policy areas to focus on in the next two years.
During the orientation, students heard from NACCHO leadership about how the organization works, the value of bringing together practice-based public health and academia, the main focus areas of the preparedness team, and the government affairs’ role at NACCHO. After a morning of introductions, the students paired up with NACCHO staff to review their draft statements and receive comments. The three students are expected to participate in the February workgroup calls that will review their statements: the Preparedness Policy, Outcomes and Measures Workgroup, Incident Management Workgroup, and Surge Management Workgroup. The NACCHO workgroup members will have an opportunity to provide feedback to the students and expand on their policy statements.
NACCHO is currently undergoing a similar NACCHO Policy Scholar Program with Johns Hopkins University as well, in which students are writing a social media for risk communication statement. The winner of the competition will work with NACCHO staff to refine their statement.