Practice Support

The Center for Public Health Systems (CPHS) provides technical support and workforce extenders for governmental and non-governmental operations. We assist by supplying data collection, advanced analytics, and visualization capacity as well as other direct support to public health practitioners. We collaborate with partners to strategically identify data, knowledge, training, and tools needed by public health practitioners, and then work collaboratively to develop the resources.

View a full menu of the services CPHS offers (opens in new window).

For a full list of publications and presentations please visit our ResearchGate page.

Workforce Development

CPHS collaborates with partners to identify workforce development needs, particularly via training needs assessments, pipeline development, recruitment and retention, succession management, and organizational research. We aim to improve the pathway for both students and professionals to enter the field of public health. To achieve this goal, the Center works with exclusive datasets, contacts in agencies at all levels of government, and University of Minnesota students.

We also function as a networking resource for students, helping to cultivate opportunities and placement for training externally in addition to providing opportunities for students to be directly involved in Center projects.

Assessment, Planning, and Evaluation

CPHS performs independent and objective evaluations of programs and communities and supports long-term planning initiatives. We provide a comprehensive suite of services to meet the assessment needs of public health entities. Our staff and leadership have experience in the academic, public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Examples of assessments, plans, and evaluations we assist with, or conduct, include:

  • Community Health Needs Assessments / Community Health Assessment,
  • Community Health Improvement Planning,
  • Strategic Planning,
  • Project Evaluation, and
  • Program Evaluation.

Within Minnesota we frequently work with:

Public Health Advocacy

CPHS is a nexus for public health ideas and resources within the University of Minnesota and collaborates in lobbying efforts to support partners and affiliated agencies. Our students and staff are encouraged to network with other University centers to approach public health problems from new angles with fresh perspectives.

We also use our expertise to provide data to lobby for thoughtful, effective policies such as pay equity for public health professionals, enhanced public health partnerships (e.g., cross-jurisdictional sharing), and assuring a minimum package of public health services available in every community. We are strong advocates for the full adoption and implementation of the Foundational Public Health Services framework across the country, as well as for sufficient resources for public health agencies to deliver core public health services fully and equitably.


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Active Projects

The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) in Illinois is contracting with CPHS to conduct a cost and capacity assessment of their agency. The project will review the staffing and financial allocations of CCDPH and estimate the resources the agency requires to fully implement foundational public health services in their jurisdiction. Additionally, we will also conduct an assessment of the external and internal factors related to workforce recruitment and retention.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is contracting with CPHS to support the transformation of the Minnesota public health system; this project aligns with other initiatives across the nation referred to as “21st Century Public Health” or “21C.” CPHS staff have used Minnesota practitioner-vetted definitions for the various scopes of work and activities across the state to design and deploy an assessment tool to estimate staffing and spending for Minnesota public health. In addition to a CPHS-conducted public health system network analysis, these data will support the development of models for current staffing and spending and potential scenarios for future transformations. Findings anticipated to be available in Spring 2023.

Due to public health workforce recruitment and retention challenges that have accelerated during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AmeriCorps are providing $400 million to create a new public health workforce pipeline. CPHS has partnered with Minnesota Local Public Health Association (LPHA) and ServeMinnesota to establish the Minnesota Public Health Corps (MNPHC) using these funds. CPHS staff assisted with the development of MNPHC using formative evaluation with LPHA members to inform the program (please read our final report on this formative evaluation).

The first set of members were brought on in August, 2022 (please read our blog post describing the launch). CPHS staff are currently assisting with implementation and program evaluation.

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) contracted with the CPHS to characterize the environmental public health workforce and develop a staffing model for the EPH departments of local health agencies.

We are partnering with the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota (LPHA) to identify occupations and positions that members of LPHA find difficult to recruit candidates for, characterize the challenges to recruitment and retention, and pilot a hub-and-spoke placement model to place students from the school’s public health programs into local health agencies. Please see our first published article with select results from this project.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is contracting with CPHS to develop a new local health official training similar to the previous Survive and Thrive training. To inform this new local health official training program, CPHS staff conducted key informant interviews, a national survey, an environmental scan, and secondary data analysis. CPHS staff are now working to develop an evaluation for the new program.

TRaining in Informatics for Underrepresented Minorities in Public Health (TRIUMPH) is a consortium housed in the Center and co-led by the School of Nursing to train students and public health workers in public health informatics. TRIUMPH, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, focuses on training people historically underrepresented in the field of public health.

View additional information on TRIUMPH

The Region V Public Health Training Center (RVPHTC) is part of the national Public Health Learning Network, a consortium of ten regional Public Health Training Centers and the country’s most comprehensive resource for public health workforce development. As the Evaluation lead for RVPHTC, we are tasked with evaluating both the programs and training offered by RVPHTC as well as the impact of RVPHTC on program participants, their agencies, and the health outcomes of the communities they serve.

Past Projects

We developed a comprehensive guide that will enables practitioners, students, and Minnesota Public Health Corps members to participate in a community health assessment process, even if they are new to CHNAs.  In addition to providing readers with a detailed process of what a community health assessment entails, this guidance also provides a basic introduction to both qualitative and quantitative tools and resources to assist organizations or agencies in need of assistance with their community health needs assessments. Please contact us if you are interested in this tool.

Past Projects

Ride-along Toolkit (2021)

Public Health Ride-Alongs, modeled on public safety and law enforcement ride-alongs, offer “civilians” the opportunity to learn about the important role that their local public health authority plays in keeping them and their communities healthy and safe. Public health has been called “invisible” because its work is done behind the scenes. Community members may take public health’s accomplishments—safe food, safe water, prevention of disease through immunization and nutrition, among many others—for granted.

This toolkit provides guidelines and templates for a local or state health jurisdiction to develop its own ride-along programs.

Public Health Model Job Descriptions (2021 – 2022)

This project was an initiative of the Region V Public Health Training Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and CPHS. Together, we created evidence-based job descriptions and attractive job postings that can be easily adapted by local and state health departments.

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