Public Health Workforce Gaps, Impacts, and Improvement Strategies from COVID-19

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The public health workforce has been instrumental in protecting residents against population health threats. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the public health workforce and exposed gaps in the workforce. Public health practitioners nationwide are still coming to understand these gaps, impacts, and lessons learned from the pandemic. This study aimed to explore Minnesota’s local public health practitioners’ perceptions of public health workforce gaps, the impacts of these workforce gaps, and the lessons learned in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted seven concurrent focus groups with members of the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota (LPHA; n = 55) using a semi-structured focus group guide and a survey of the local agencies (n = 70/72 respondents, 97% response rate). Focus group recordings were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using deductive and inductive coding (in vivo coding, descriptive coding), followed by thematic analysis. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive analyses and were integrated with the qualitative data. Participants indicated experiencing many workforce gaps, workforce gaps impacts, and described improvement strategies. Overall, many of the workforce gaps and impacts resulting from COVID-19 discussed by practitioners in Minnesota are observed in other areas across the nation, making the findings relevant to public health workforce nationally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13084
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by The Administration for Children and Families, grant number 90ET0495-01-04.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • focus groups
  • gaps
  • impacts
  • improvement strategies
  • mixed-methods
  • public health workforce


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