A discussion with a colleague of mine recently caused me to pause and recollect the many opportunities that have been presented over the years for professional development. I reflected upon the growth possibilities over the past 25 years, and realized that professional development opportunities are presented whenever social, economic, and political changes manifest themselves. We grow and become more valuable to our employers and communities as we respond to the Winds of Change.
I remember beginning my environmental health career as a new, never-been-used sanitarian. Not unlike most new professionals, I was responsible for conducting inspections in a variety of general environmental health programs. Something new was on the horizon called Food Manager Certification, and I was requested to attend the NEHA annual conference in Cincinnati where a large portion of the conference was devoted to this topic. Further, I was given the opportunity to develop a mandatory program for my health department. The Winds of Change were blowing, and I had an opportunity for professional development. I remember being somewhat fearful. I was afraid of not providing the product that was expected of me. I was afraid the program would not be successful. I was afraid of the unknown. In spite of these fears, the program was developed and implemented. Funny - as I look back upon the experience, those fears are no longer with me.
Professional development is many things. In the above case, it was overcoming fears just as much as it was learning new information. Professional development has value when what is learned is implemented. Having information and skills benefits only the individual until the information is acted upon and the skills are implemented. Those of you who are young in the profession, don't be afraid to listen to the Winds of Change and seek opportunities to be of greater value to your profession and community by seeking a path of professional development. As you grow, so do those around you grow.
Throughout a career there are many opportunities for professional development. Many are brought on by economic, social, and political changes. In the 1970's, we became accustomed to block grants from the federal government to fund programs like Rodent Control and Childhood Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention. We developed elaborate reporting systems to meet federal requirements, and we had a positive impact upon our communities. Then block grants went away, and...