By Jamie Thompson, Minnesota Public Health Corps, Minnesota Department of Health
The COVID-19 pandemic strained our public health systems and exacerbated population health inequities. Now, with public health facing staffing shortages, worker burnout, and 20 percent of the workforce nearing retirement, the field needs to attract new talent (de Beaumont Foundation and Association of State and Territorial Health). One new program, Public Health AmeriCorps, aims to be part of the solution.
Public Health AmeriCorps launched in 2021 with the goal of increasing capacity to deliver equitable public health services while supporting the recruitment, training, and development of the next generation of public health leaders. The national program, a partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was created through a $400 million investment from the 2021 American Rescue Act Plan. These funds will be used to place up to 5,000 members across the United States in the next five years. First year grants totaled more than $60 million and were distributed to over 80 state and local organizations, including to organizations in Region V states Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Public Health AmeriCorps members address local public health needs and advance equitable health outcomes through support of local and state public health organizations. Areas of focus vary by organization and include health education and promotion, community health assessment, community engagement, data collection, project coordination, and sustained COVID-19 response and recovery. During their term of service, members receive a living stipend, training, career coaching, and valuable hands-on experience. Though this increase in temporary positions will not solve all our workforce challenges, the program is helping recruit and train the next generation of public health workers.
Reflections from a Minnesota Public Health Corps Member
I am a member of the Minnesota Public Health Corps, a state program which received $4.3 million in grant funds from Public Health AmeriCorps. Minnesota Public Health Corps launched in August 2022 and is operated in partnership with Ampact, ServeMinnesota, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Minnesota Public Health Corps members, called Public Health Project Coordinators, support governmental public health agencies and community health boards statewide. The program expects to place 150 full-time or part-time members annually over the next three years. Thus far, recruitment has surpassed expectations with 66 members serving at 37 sites across Minnesota during the program’s first year. In the coming year, Minnesota Public Health Corps is working to expand and bring on additional site partners statewide, including through incentivization of service in Greater Minnesota.
I am grateful for my experience in Minnesota Public Health Corps. I began my 11-month term of service at the Minnesota Department of Health with the program’s first cohort in August 2022. I have had the opportunity to provide technical assistance, resources, and planning support to our local public health partners for community health assessment and planning work. I’ve learned an immense amount and made connections with talented, dedicated public health professionals. The program has been valuable in preparing me not only for a public health job after my term of service but for my career in public health. To hear what this experience means to other Minnesota Public Health Corps members, check out this blog post from fellow member, Ruby Roettger.
Check out these resources:
- Read the blog post Minnesota Public Health Corps: Experiences of Current Members from fellow member, Ruby Roettger.
- For more information on Public Health AmeriCorps, please visit https://americorps.gov/about/what-we-do/public-health-americorps
- For information about becoming a Minnesota Public Health Corps site partner, please visit: https://www.ampact.us/partner.
- For more information on Minnesota Public Health Corps, please visit: https://www.ampact.us/public-health.
- What to expect as MN Public Health Corps Member