Grant Writing: A Necessary Skill for a Public Health Administrator


There are several skills that are obviously needed when one pursues a career in public health administration. The ability to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibility and keep your organization on a focused mission is a huge part of the job description. While these job skills will undoubtedly come in handy, there is one skill that is often overlooked, but absolutely necessary once you a have a public health administration position. That skill is grant writing.

The health of the American populace should be a top priority of state and local governments. However, the statistics show that this isn’t the case. Millions of Americans suffer from preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It seems obvious that governmental public health organizations would logically focus on preventative measures. Tragically, this isn’t the case, as much of our medical expenditures in this country focuses on treatment of previously existing conditions. Our current medical infrastructure simply is not built to support wide scale preventative initiatives.

Even more alarming than the focus on “after the fact” treatment is the stagnation of medical funding in general. Federal funding for the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dropped to $6 billion in 2012. On the state level, health expenditures have dropped even more dramatically, as 29 states have dropped their health spending for fiscal year 2012. Also concerning is the fact that 23 states have cut their health budgets for two or more years in a row. In the face of the 2008 economic crash, the austerity measures implemented by state and local governments have included cutbacks in health departments in 48 state health departments. As can be expected, these cutbacks have lead to an already over-extended system becoming even less effective.

It is in this increasingly tight economic environment that many public health organizations find themselves struggling for ways to be effective. The lack of direct economic support from governments has always been a reality for many non-profits, but recent financial trends have made the competition for funds tougher than ever. Thankfully, there are numerous sources of funding to be found for enterprising public health programs.  In many instances, these funds take the form of grants.

The process of writing and applying for grant funding is a skill that anyone serious about a career in public health administration will need to develop. Identifying appropriate funding sources for your organization, developing grant applications and maintaining proper records of the application process are all parts of the grant writing process. While it is certainly possible to outsource these skills, to be a truly effective public health administrator requires you to possess these abilities yourself. After all, as an administrator of any organization, your job is to be certain that the organization is in prime operating form. Writing and managing grants and other funds will play a huge part of your success in that regard.

In light of the tighter economic climate, and increased need for preventative care, public health administration requires that NGOs and non-profits be more proactive in pursuing funds to fill in the care and coverage gaps in the communities that they serve.  Grant writing simply must be considered a necessary skill in the modern climate of public health. Beyond making recent graduates more attractive in the job market, it also makes them better managers and administrators of the organizations that they are charged with overseeing.


Empowering Communities with Health Education

Investing in America’s Health: A State-by-State Look at Public Health Funding and Key Health Facts

CDC 2012 Budget Request Summary


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Nick Barnett

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