Applying Project Management Principles to the Public Health Profession

Kimberly McGraw
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When most people think of project management, constructing buildings or deploying software systems comes to mind. Crafting evidence-based, culturally appropriate health communications campaigns may not seem like a good fit for applying the principles and structures of project management. But project management fundamentals hold true across disciplines. Whether you are building the next superjet or recording a public service announcement, the goal is the same: to create the right thing, in the right amount of time, for the right amount of money.

Over the last decade, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of public health issues, ranging from ensuring children are enrolled in available health coverage programs, to educating teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, to disseminating health information about noise-induced hearing loss prevention. My role on many of these efforts has been to serve as the project manager. Being a project manager is not a glamorous job. I spend much of my time asking questions, creating check lists, and calculating dates and dollars in spreadsheets. But being a health communications project manager is a rewarding job. I have the privilege of witnessing the creation of something that improves lives.

That’s why, three years ago, I went back to school to earn a Master of Science in Project Management. I believe the application of proven project management principles can further advance the field of health communications and can have the power to create healthier communities. After all, the best health communications programs are executed through a practical approach of planning and implementation—the very foundation of project management. Having graduated at the top of my class from the George Washington University, I am equipped to apply my newfound knowledge, skills, and techniques to health communications.

The public health profession comprises experts in many fields, including epidemiologists, social workers and behavioral health specialists, and scientists and researchers. At IQ Solutions, we continually learn about and apply different public health models to improve health education campaigns and improve health outcomes. Through IQ Solutions’ support for continuing education, I am able to overlay our public health knowledge base with the latest project management tools and best practices. While things like scope and risk management may not sound like exciting, understanding how these knowledge areas impact the delivery and receipt of vital health information is important to achieving a shared mission to promote good health.

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