The MCH Navigator: Tools for MCH Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning
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Maternal and child health (MCH) leadership requires an understanding of MCH populations and systems as well as continuous pursuit of new knowledge and skills. This paper describes the development, structure, and implementation of the MCH Navigator, a web-based portal for ongoing education and training for a diverse MCH workforce. Early development of the portal focused on organizing high quality, free, web-based learning opportunities that support established learning competencies without duplicating existing resources. An academic-practice workgroup developed a conceptual model based on the MCH Leadership Competencies, the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals, and a structured review of MCH job responsibilities. The workgroup used a multi-step process to cull the hundreds of relevant, but widely scattered, trainings and select those most valuable for the primary target audiences of state and local MCH professionals and programs. The MCH Navigator now features 248 learning opportunities, with additional tools to support their use. Formative assessment findings indicate that the portal is widely used and valued by its primary audiences, and promotes both an individual’s professional development and an organizational culture of continuous learning. Professionals in practice and academic settings are using the MCH Navigator for orientation of new staff and advisors, “just in time” training for specific job functions, creating individualized professional development plans, and supplementing course content. To achieve its intended impact and ensure the timeliness and quality of the Navigator’s content and functions, the MCH Navigator will need to be sustained through ongoing partnership with state and local MCH professionals and the MCH academic community.