Workplace Public Health

Cover image for Workplace Public Health

In this Program, you’ll learn how to make better decisions and create policies about public health directly from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health experts and epidemiologists. Workplace public health is a specific and critical emerging skill that combines the science and policy dimensions of public health with the managerial, leadership, and communication skills necessary for impact in modern organizations. This Program is for leaders, managers, and anyone tasked with guiding their workforce safely through this pandemic and beyond.

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Program Overview

Millions of us around the world have found ourselves in an unfamiliar role over the past year: public health decision maker. To keep our teams healthy, our workplaces safe, and our organizations functioning, we’re scouring the news, following public health officials on Twitter, and scrambling to keep up with ever-changing guidelines and best practices. We’re building policies and making decisions that have life-or-death ramifications, often without expert guidance or experience. We’re mastering new modes of communication and asking for levels of trust from our people that stretch well outside the boundaries of business as usual. We are building the plane as we fly it through a thunderstorm. And we could use some support.

We’ve worked with epidemiologists and public health experts from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health to meet this growing need with Workplace Public Health, a Program made for anyone tasked with guiding their organization, workforce or team safely through this pandemic and beyond.

Workplace Public Health was built on the recognition that workplace public health is a specific and critical emerging skill that combines the science and policy dimensions of public health with the managerial, leadership, and communication skills necessary for impact in modern organizations.

The Workplace Public Health Program will go deep on the science of Covid-19 and look at the big problems every public health policy and policymaker must solve, as well as the ways that communication, culture, and strategic foresight dramatically impact whether we fail or succeed in tackling the pandemic. We've pulled case studies and best practices from around the world, and will prepare learners for a future in which public health incidences are a manageable reality. You’ll learn the skills you need to make a difference and join a vibrant community of leaders, scientists, and entrepreneurs from around the world committed to doing it alongside you.

This Program is dedicated to the many public health workers globally who devote their lives to the science, management, research, awareness building, and implementation of public health initiatives and pandemic response.

It is also with heavy but hopeful hearts that we dedicate this Program—and the conversations it will inspire—to two public health heroes who were particularly impactful to the Nomadic family: Jennifer Schlecht and Dr. Carolyn Keith Burr.

Key Questions

How do we best navigate the changing science around the transmission of SARS-CoV-2?

What are the main modes of transmission for viruses, and how does this impact our approach to policy making?

How can we most effectively communicate policies to our workforces and communities?

How has Covid-19 uniquely impacted our workplaces, and what can we learn from the experiences of others in industries outside of our own?

Field Manuals

The Workplace Public Health Program is made up of 5 Field Manuals (our version of an online module). Each one contains a variety of types of content and social exercises culminating in a mini-project, reflection, or debate. Each Field Manual will take you between 30-45 minutes to complete but you can jump on and off at your own pace, as often as you’d like. The deeper learning happens in the discussions with your fellow learners so be sure to check in on the conversations regularly.

  • 1. The Science of Covid-19

    Before we can make informed policy decisions about Covid-19, we have to understand how it works. In this Field Manual, we’ll walk through the science of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and begin to explore tactics for slowing its spread.

  • 2. Policy Design

    To keep our workforce healthy, we need policies that both prevent outbreaks from occurring and stop them from growing when they appear. This Field Manual is about how to design policies to meet both needs. It looks at how to use variables like social distance, cohorts, PPE, testing, isolation, contact tracing and more to design and implement a policy that works for your workforce.

  • 3. Policy in Action

    Covid-19 has a way of making the best laid plans go awry. As you bring people back into workplaces, the policy will inform some tough decisions but won't make them for you. You'll have to make sure your people really do have access to the PPE, tests, and isolation facilities they'll need to follow the policy. You'll have to trace contacts and isolate folks at risk who may not realize they've been exposed. You'll have to send people into isolation or make them get an extra test. This Field Manual is all about getting that done.

  • 4. Public Health Leadership

    Leadership is the single most important variable in how a team, organization, city, or country navigates the pandemic. And it's a different kind of leadership than we're used to. It's a mix of firmness and transparency. A willingness to make hard decisions balanced by an obsession with learning from mistakes. And the ultimate test of leadership in a public health crisis is how we galvanize and empower our communities to fight the pandemic themselves.

  • 5. The Next Crisis

    Some day the Covid-19 pandemic will end. When it does, there will be a natural tendency to forget what we've learned and to revert back to the way things used to be. This Field Manual is about how Workforce Public Health professionals can resist that tendency and work to institutionalize what we've learned during Covid-19 to create a healthier workforce over the long term and to be ready when the next crisis hits.

Featured Voices
  • Dr. Micaela Martinez

    Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

  • Dr. S. Patrick Kachur

    Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

  • Erica Fishman

    Film Production Executive

  • Matt Burr

    Co-founder and CEO of Nomadic

An excerpt from the Program

Before the pandemic, many of us were building lives and developing skills that, without our even realizing it, prepared us to lead during a public health crisis. In the following video, Erica Fishman, film production executive, shares her thoughts on how film sets are changing and how she is helping her crews to understand that "everything is a stunt."