How DAWNS Builds on Success of PH WINS
August 2017

Kyle Bogaert
Director, Workforce Research; Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)

The governmental public health workforce plays an essential part in shaping the public health system to promote and protect health and well-being. Given this, workforce development is critical to ensure that governmental public health agencies have a robust workforce with the training, tools, and development supports that the communities they serve need. High-quality, actionable data is necessary to have targeted, impactful workforce development that addresses cross-cutting training needs, skill gaps, morale, and climate.

In 2014, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the de Beaumont Foundation fielded the first nationally-representative survey of the state health agency workforce: the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS). PH WINS captured individuals’ perspectives related to their workplace environment, training needs, and trends impacting public health.

PH WINS provides the individual perspective of the workforce – what staff members think about their agency and workforce needs. The missing perspective is a systematic view from leadership, and what they think are the most substantial needs among their employees. To fill this gap, ASTHO began fielding the Directors Assessment of Workforce Needs Survey (DAWNS) this week.

DAWNS collects important leadership perspectives regarding the capacities and development needs of the state governmental public health workforce. Specifically, DAWNS focuses on leadership perspectives related to:

  • capabilities and skill gaps,
  • the workforce pipeline,
  • recruitment and retention issues, and
  • the utility of formal public health education.

Many membership organizations, including AMCHP, supported this effort, and AMCHP’s members will be surveyed to provide their unique perspectives on the needs of their employees. After the survey is completed, participating organizations will receive a customized report, and a national report will be published highlighting the greatest leadership-identified workforce development needs.

After DAWNS, ASTHO, in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation, will field PH WINS in September 2017 for the second time. PH WINS is the only nationally representative data source of the state governmental public health workforce. The findings from the first fielding of PH WINS have been used by participating health agencies to better understand and address workforce development, as well as by federal partners to help inform future investments in public health workforce development.

For the second iteration of PH WINS, all workers at participating state health agencies, Big Cities Health Coalition member agencies, and a nationally representative sample of local health departments will be invited to participate. Participation in the survey provides actionable data for participating agencies to address cross-cutting training needs, skill gaps, and information critical to understanding and improving the workforce that delivers public health services nationally.

For additional information about DAWNS and PH WINS, contact Kyle Bogaert, director of workforce research at ASTHO (