Charting New Strategic Directions in Learning for the Global FETP Community

Within the context of the 2017-2020 strategic plan of the TEPHINET Secretariat, as well as the emerging landscape forming in response to the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap, TEPHINET has established the FETP Learning Advisory Council (FLAC) to assess and advise on learning initiatives within the global field epidemiology training program (FETP) community. The ultimate mission of the FLAC is to develop a comprehensive new learning strategy for the global FETP enterprise and support its ongoing implementation in order to ensure a well-trained and professional global field epidemiology workforce prepared to address evolving public health priorities.

While TEPHINET has successfully overseen the implementation of numerous learning projects over its 22-year history, its goal now is to define and lead a formalized learning program to support its fundamental work of building and strengthening an agile and dynamic global network of FETP members that can confront and manage modern challenges related to global health security.

From May 28-30, the FLAC convened for the first time in Atlanta to review the recommendations made by TEPHINET stakeholders to date on the development of a global FETP learning strategy, identify priorities, and draft a work plan to guide its next steps. This meeting marked a key milestone in a series of events beginning in 2017 to form TEPHINET’s new learning program. In 2017, TEPHINET developed its mission strategic goal to support continuous learning within the global FETP community by creating and implementing a continuous learning strategy in collaboration with the regional networks and programs.

In April 2018, TEPHINET held a working group meeting of key stakeholders to conduct an environmental scan and needs assessment of the state of learning activities across the FETP enterprise. TEPHINET presented the initial findings from this meeting at the July 2018 TEPHINET Program Directors Meeting and gained consensus on the common, network-wide learning themes that emerged. One month prior, a group of key leaders and partners working to develop effective global field epidemiology capacity began conceptualizing the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap. The recommendations and vision provided by the Roadmap will guide the future of TEPHINET’s and the FLAC’s work.

Emerging from the Roadmap is the formation of a new strategic leadership group to guide the FETP enterprise. This group will broadly oversee the work of the FLAC, ensuring that FETP training incorporates essential core competencies, identifying areas where FETP curricula need to be modernized or improved, and helping to foster a culture of, and opportunities for, life-long learning among FETP fellows and graduates.

The first major goal of the FLAC is to develop a comprehensive new learning strategy that identifies gaps, challenges, and needs, and defines approaches for addressing those needs. Emerging themes from the work completed to date include a desire for new teaching methods and tools, curriculum models that meet quality standards but can be tailored for local contexts, and relevant, updated content and resources that are easily accessible. As the FLAC works on developing the strategy, it will also lead the formation of several working groups specializing in technical topics related to learning.

TEPHINET will present a completed first draft of this strategy, including input from the FLAC and technical working groups, at the TEPHINET Program Directors Meeting being held in Atlanta in October just before the 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference. During the conference, TEPHINET will also host a learning-focused plenary session in order to raise awareness and receive feedback directly from participants, who may be FETP fellows, graduates, staff, or other partners invested in this work.

Looking towards the future, the FLAC will guide the FETP enterprise on addressing learning challenges and create a broader network of learning-focused focal points to participate in working groups and collaborate as needed.

For more information about this initiative, please contact Claire Jennings, TEPHINET Project Manager, at cjennings [at] tephinet [dot] org.