Beyond the 80,000 Forecast: Calculate How Many FTEs Your Health Department Needs

The Public Health Workforce Calculator is a tool to assist local health departments in their workforce planning efforts by using information provided for the local health department to estimate the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) needed to provide the provision of basic public health services.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, the public health workforce felt the constraints of operating with minimally adequate staffing. Staff in government health departments were used to doing more with less, innovating out of necessity and working as hard as possible within an under-resourced system – the pandemic has highlighted the dire need to support public health and provided an opportunity to transforming a public health system.

In October 2021, the Public Health Accreditation Board’s (PHAB) National Center for Public Health Innovation (PHNCI) and the de Beaumont Foundation published a national assessment of the staff needed to deliver essential public health services (FPHS) – the analysis found, that more than 80,000 additional full-time equivalents (FTEs) are needed in state and local health departments to implement FPHS. An 80% increase in the public health workforce is needed just to provide basic public services.

Following the release of the forecast, the de Beaumont Foundation, PHNCI at PHAB, the Center for Public Health Systems at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support partnered to develop a Public Health Workforce Calculator. The calculator is a tool to assist local health departments with their workforce planning efforts by using information provided for the local health department to estimate the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) needed to ensure the delivery of essential public health services . The calculator is intended for use in decentralized public health systems serving less than 500,000 residents.

On October 27th, 2022, the calculator was shared with the field during a webinar launch. The calculator provides users with an estimate of the minimum number of FTEs required by a jurisdiction to provide essential public health services by Core Capabilities (FC) and Core Areas (FA). Health departments can use the assessment to support their workforce planning, identify gaps and advocate for additional resources. Calculator estimates should be used for planning purposes only and should not be considered accurate.

To use the calculator, first review the Public Health Calculator User Guide.

Calculator highlights:

  • The calculator should be used by local health departments in decentralized public health systems that serve less than 500,000 residents – results for health departments that do not meet these criteria will not be reliable.
  • The Advanced User option is available for local health departments that have data on the number of FTEs contributing to each core capability and core area of ​​the FPHS and capacity and cost assessment work.
  • The calculator was developed based on data from 170 local health departments in 4 states and several model assumptions.
    • All data used in the development of the calculator is from 2018 and therefore does not reflect staffing changes that health departments may have made due to the pandemic – the calculator is not intended to deal with peak capacity planning.

Learn more about the calculator at phnci.org/transformation/workforce-calculator.

The Public Health Workforce Calculator was developed through a partnership between the de Beaumont Foundation, the National Center for Public Health Innovation of the Council on Public Health Accreditation, the UMN SPH Center for Public Health Systems, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for state, tribal, local and territorial support. The development would not have been possible without the input of a number of public health practitioners and experts, including Staffing Up Management Committee; Staff recruitment Research Advisory Committee; Crow Insight, LLC; JP Leider Research and Consulting; Mac McCullough; Sieger Consulting SPC; Northwest Center for Community Health Practice, University of Washington; Singh Research and Consulting LLC; Valerie A. Yeager, LLC; ; and WE Public Health.

Author profile

Naomi Rich

Naomi Rich is a Program Specialist at PHAB, where she provides administrative and strategic communications support to the National Center for Public Health Innovation and Program, Research, and Evaluation teams. Before joining PHAB in 2020, Naomi applied a community organizing lens to her work in political campaigns, nonprofits, and a communications agency. She holds a BA in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis.

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