Creation of a Mentorship Program

Client Massachusetts Health Officers Association

Practice Area Program/Project Management

The Story of Massachusetts Health Officers Association

The Massachusetts Health Officers Association (MHOA) is recognized by members and other agencies as an influential professional organization representing and advocating for local public and environmental health. MHOA leads, supports, and advocates for the delivery of statutory and foundational public health services across every municipality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MHOA informs, educates, and empowers its members to ensure healthy communities for all. 

Foundational to MHOA’s work is the belief that all people in Massachusetts should have equal opportunities to achieve their full health potential. This vision requires a robust local public health system that can promote equitable health outcomes for everyone, regardless of their geographic location or circumstances. MHOA strives to embed this principle of equity into all of its initiatives, including advocacy and workforce development.

The Challenge of Maintaining a Robust Workforce

The landscape of local public health is constantly evolving, presenting diverse challenges and opportunities that demand a robust and adept workforce. One persistent challenge is the diminishing size of the local public health workforce. Over the past decade, the workforce has experienced a significant reduction of more than 15%, creating a critical shortage of skilled professionals.

The consequences of this workforce shortage are extensive, affecting the delivery of essential public health services and compromising the overall effectiveness of public health initiatives. The MHOA Mentorship Program is a strategic approach to bolster workforce retention by providing a framework for ongoing learning and development. Through mentorship, experienced professionals can impart their knowledge and insights to newer workforce members, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and supportiveness. This approach mitigates the immediate challenges posed by the workforce shortage and lays the foundation for a sustainable and resilient local public health workforce that can adapt to future challenges and opportunities.

How BME Strategies Responded

BME collaborated with MHOA to co-create the Mentorship Program Guide for local public health. Upon joining this initiative, BME spearheaded a monthly steering committee of a diverse group of local public health professionals from across the state. These steering committee meetings served as a dynamic platform for collective brainstorming and course corrections, ensuring the program’s alignment with the needs of the public health landscape in Massachusetts. 

BME supported the steering committee in crafting an initial outline of the mentorship program structure and researching other mentorship programs. Building upon this vision, BME and the steering committee decided to use focus groups to collect qualitative data on the expectations of potential participants from a mentorship program, their motivations for participating, and the tools they identified as necessary for success. BME facilitated these focus groups, analyzed the results, and presented actionable insights to the steering committee to refine the program’s trajectory.

In collaboration with MHOA, BME developed a comprehensive mentorship guide as a foundational resource for the program. This guide serves both as a promotional tool and as a resource for mentors and mentees to use throughout the program. By covering topics such as mentorship fundamentals, benefits for mentors and mentees, program goals, stages of formal mentoring relationships, application processes, setting expectations, goal setting, program checkpoints, schedule overviews, and potential discussion topics, the guide provided a framework for a structured and successful mentorship experience.

In response to focus group discussions, an evaluation component was included in the program guide. Mentors and mentees receive surveys at three-month intervals to assess their mentorship relationship and progress toward their goals. This component ensures continuous improvement and adaptability and provides valuable feedback to shape future iterations of the mentorship program.

The culmination of these efforts was highlighted by the program’s successful introduction during MHOA’s summer webinar series. BME was proud to have been asked to introduce the program, guide participants through the guide’s usability, share testimonials from focus group participants, and facilitate an engaging Q&A session.

The Results

While MHOA’s inaugural local public health Mentorship Program is still in progress, the initiative has already achieved significant milestones. After being introduced during MHOA’s summer webinar series, the program received a favorable response of 22 applications from potential mentors and mentees. This enthusiastic engagement is a testament to the program’s broad appeal and resonance within the local public health community. Due to the response rate, the program, which initially set a target to facilitate five mentorship pairs in its pilot year, surpassed expectations and expanded its capacity to accommodate seven mentor/mentee groups. 

MHOA held a successful kick-off orientation event, marking the program’s official launch in September 2023. While this inaugural program is scheduled to run until May 2024, these early achievements indicate a promising start for this local public health initiative.

Deliverables :

  • Implementation of an evaluation system featuring 3-month checkpoint surveys
  • Development and delivery of a presentation as part of MHOA’s summer webinar series
  • Creation of a comprehensive Mentorship Program Guide encompassing essential components such as the Program Application, Mentor/Mentee Agreement, and Goal Setting Framework Worksheet
  • Design and execution of a focus group guide, with a subsequent results write-up capturing actionable insights

Overall Impact Statement

BME’s collaboration with MHOA in co-creating the Local Public Health Mentorship Program resulted in a successful launch, exceeding expectations by accommodating seven mentorship groups and marking an exciting start for this initiative to benefit the public health workforce.