College Essay Examples

Leadership for Public Health professionals


Politics & Healthcare Reforms

Besides being massive and limitless, the scope of public health poses intricate and complex challenges. It affects every stage of human life, covers each element of man and his environment, is intertwined with the complexities of society, and usually deals with numerous stakeholders. Thus, leadership in public health professional is not an easy task and requires other skills and knowledge not taught in the curriculum, such as passion to the mission, firm and flexible, dynamic, and highly adept communication skills. However, these three competencies are essential to successfully leading a public health professionally team and achieve mutual objectives. 

Readiness for Action

With their role in society, public health professionals are crucial to effective response in emergencies that affect the health masses. They are required to instantly respond to and control such situations to minimize possible damages to society. Moreover, with many stakeholders, the response and success are under scrutiny. Thus, leadership in public health professional requires an individual who can readily respond to any crisis, outbreak, or emergency that affects the public’s health by leading their team. The ability to rapidly and immediately respond to emergencies is underlined by characteristics such as courage, decision-making, and risk-taking. 

However, health professionals’ leaders cannot choose the type of emergency or events. According to Azar & Ruiz (2003), even though they could not predict and prepare for the events of September 11, they still immediately responded to the call to action. Leadership in health professionals requires an individual who understands that through prompt response to emergencies, they demonstrate their knowledge and skills gained at school. In being ready for call action, leadership in public health demonstrates the commitment to their roles and responsibilities in society. 

Additionally, leadership in public health professionals should be visionary by anticipating future events and prepare. Therefore, public health leaders should demonstrate team leadership and dynamics competencies to build their capacity to respond to situations effectively. By anticipating potential dangers, visionary leaders develop risk communication and preparedness of their teams for the events. They should plan for uncertainties in the community (Taylor, Bookbinder, Slater, 2008). According to Naik et al. (2019), the successful implementation of community mitigation measures is dependent on the public’s understanding and compliance. A public health leader recognizes to effectively prepare the public on response framework to any potential dangers. Thus, public health professional leadership should be ready to respond to any dangers in society. It requires them to anticipate potential dangers and effectively prepare their teams and society to reduce their impacts on the community. 

Ethical Decision-Making

According to Thomas, MacDonald, & Wenink (2009), due to little deliberation time, the number of people affected, and potential essential resources incapacitation, there are numerous ethical challenges in public health emergencies. These challenges were in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Roe (2020) and Enriquez (2020) assert that the response to the pandemic shows racial health disparities, evident in the disproportionate mortality rates by the virus among people of color. It is the role of public health leadership to identify the challenge of racial health disparities in their practice and response to emergencies. Ethical decision-making is an essential element to reducing systemic and structural disparities in response to a crisis. 

Health professional leadership identifies that the society consists of people with distinct cultural backgrounds, practices, values, and beliefs. When responding to emergencies, public health leaders should make decisions that do not discriminate against any members of the society without risking the other members of the community. The Public Health Code of Ethics is an essential document that guides ethical decision-making for public health professionals’ leadership. Using the document, they understand the key causes of adverse health outcomes and obtain guidance on ethical decision-making. Moreover, it should be guided by the underlying beliefs and values of the public health practice. It advocates for the competence of public health professionals and using the scientifically gained knowledge to guide decisions. 

Public health leaders are required to promote ethical decision-making among their team members to enhance health equity. According to Schulz et al. (2020), public health professionals can promote health equity by supporting racial, socioeconomic, and ethnic justice. Therefore, public health leaders should ensure that they teach their subordinates ethical decision-making as a mechanism to support racial justice. Ethical decision-making is crucial to advocating for vulnerable populations, effective cross-cultural response to emergencies, and the professional competence of public health workers. 

Cultural Competence


The scope of public health makes its leadership a demanding task that requires more than the set of skills and knowledge learned in the curriculum. The main demographic feature of the United States’ population is the racial and ethnic diversity. This diversity poses a significant challenge to the practice of public health, which requires interaction practitioners to interact with each member of the society. According to Betancourt et al., (2016), entails understanding influence of cultural and social aspects on patients’ health behaviors and beliefs and devise interventions based on their interactions for quality health outcomes of the diverse population. Public health professional leadership needs to understand sociocultural barriers to care. 

However, cultural competence in the United States does not only entail race and ethnicity. Other factors that comprise cultural competence include socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, and disability. According to Boynton et al. (2020), there are significant gender identity and sexual orientation health disparities in the United States. In a study by Venugopal et al. (2020), there is a high correlation between the density of vape shops and proximity with school with socioeconomic factors nationally in the United States. Moreover, significant health disparities among homeless veterans during disasters have been reported in the United States (Gable, Der-Martirosian, & Dobalian, 2018). The presence of overwhelming health disparities requires public health professional leadership to promote cultural competence in practice to service delivery to those dimensions of the society affected by health inequity. Leaders who are culturally competent address their biases and, in turn, ensure that they understand and address their populations’ diversity. 


The practice of public health is massive and limitless in scope, which poses a significant problem to its practitioners and leadership. This feature makes its leadership a demanding task that requires specific leadership skills compared to other professions. A key aspect of public health professional leadership is the readiness of practitioners for a call to action anytime. Since it is impossible to predict some emergency disasters such as September 11, the leadership should ensure that both the leaders and their subordinates are ready to respond promptly once call upon. Moreover, it is the need for prompt responses that ensure both public health practitioners and the public are adequately prepared for an emergency. Ethical reasoning and cultural competence is an essential element of public health professional leadership in the United States. The significant diversity among its population is a crucial source of health inequity. Public health leaders can promote health equity through ethical decision-making and cultural competence to eliminate biases that result from cultural, social, and economic differences in society. 



Azar, C. F., & Ruiz, Y. (2003). “We Are All Public Health”: September 11 and its Aftermath Through the Eyes of Public Health Educators at Ground Zero. Health promotion practice4(4), 362-366.

Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, I. I. (2016). Defining cultural competence: a practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Public health reports.

Boynton, M. H., Gilbert, J., Shook-Sa, B. E., & Lee, J. G. (2020). Perceived importance of health concerns among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults in a national, probability-based phone survey, 2017. Health promotion practice21(5), 764-768.

Enriquez, M. (2020). COVID-19 Strikes the Vulnerable.

Gable, A. R., Der-Martirosian, C., & Dobalian, A. (2018). Access to care for homeless veterans during disasters. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health9, 2150132718815382.

Naik, R. I., Vagi, S. J., Uzicanin, A., & Dopson, S. A. (2019). Influenza-related communication and community mitigation strategies: results from the 2015 pandemic influenza readiness assessment. Health promotion practice20(3), 338-343.

Roe, K. M. (2020). Our Lane in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Health Promotion Practice21(4), 481-483.

Schulz, A. J., Mehdipanah, R., Chatters, L. M., Reyes, A. G., Neblett Jr, E. W., & Israel, B. A. (2020). Moving health education and behavior upstream: Lessons from COVID-19 for addressing structural drivers of health inequities. Health Education & Behavior47(4), 519-524.

Taylor, L., Miro S., Bookbinder, S., & Slater, T. (2008).  Innovative infrastructure in New Jersey:  Using health education professionals to inform and educate during a crisis. Health Promotion Practice, 9(4), 88-95.

Thomas, J. C., MacDonald, P. D., & Wenink, E. (2009). Ethical decision making in a crisis: a case study of ethics in public health emergencies. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice15(2), E16-E21.

Venugopal, P. D., Morse, A. L., Tworek, C., & Chang, H. W. (2020). Socioeconomic disparities in Vape shop density and proximity to public schools in the Conterminous United States, 2018. Health promotion practice21(1_suppl), 9S-17S.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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