I’m Lisle Hites, Director of the Evaluation and Assessment Unit (EAU) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). I’m writing to share my team’s experiences in conducting needs assessments.
We frequently have opportunities to work with our colleagues on campus to conduct needs assessments for grant-funded projects. One such example was a training grant through the School of Nursing, and we provide it to highlight the value of gathering more than one perspective in assessing needs.
In 2012, CDC data revealed that the South is the epicenter of new infections of HIV; compared to other regions, 46% of all new infections occurred in the region, with a higher percentage of women (24%) and African-Americans (58%) represented in the new infections. Therefore, it is critically important that healthcare providers receive HIV/AIDS training in order to provide HIV/AIDS primary care to meet current and future healthcare demands.
To establish workforce training capacity, we sent surveys to two key healthcare audiences: (1) potential training sites (Ryan White Grantees) and (2) future family nurse practitioners (FNPs). Responses identified both a shortage of trained HIV/AIDS healthcare providers as well as an interest by providers and students to establish clinical training opportunities. Additionally, 78% of current FNP students enrolled at one research institution in the south resided within 60 miles of a Ryan White Grantee site in a tri-state region.
- The design of this needs assessment allowed us to consider the capacity of Ryan White Grantee sites to provide clinical training opportunities for FNP students.
- The survey captured the interest and desire of FNP students to seek the skills necessary to provide HIV/AIDS primary care.
Despite the current and future needs for a trained healthcare workforce, healthcare providers in the Deep South still encounter many of the same attitudes toward people living with HIV/AIDS as were found in the early years of the epidemic; therefore, it was necessary to identify a pool of potential candidates for training (i.e., FNP students). At the same time, little was known regarding the capacity and willingness of Ryan White Grantee sites to provide an adequate number of opportunities to meet the training needs of these students. By considering both sides of the equation, we could accurately match the number of students and training sites to ensure a high degree of satisfaction and success for both parties.
- Altschuld, J. W. (2014). Bridging the gap between asset/capacity building and needs assessment: Concepts and practical application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Stufflebeam, McCormick, Brinkerhoff, and Nelson (1985). Conducting educational needs assessment. Norwell, MA: Wolters Kluwer.
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