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Ask the AHD Expert: Creating a Job Description for an AHD Coordinator

Date: 9/29/2017 10:40 AM

Related Categories: Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Topic: Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Tag: Academic Health Department, Academic Health Department Learning Community, Council on Linkages, Workforce Development

Bill Keck, MD, MPH, Chair, Academic Health Department Learning Community; Chair, Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice; Professor Emeritus, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University
With excellent staff being key to the successful operation of academic health department (AHD) partnerships, are there particular responsibilities that are core to the job of managing an AHD? This third column in the Ask the AHD Expert series explores the development of job descriptions for AHD coordinators.
Question: We are in the process of establishing an AHD partnership between our local health department and university, and are trying to develop a job description for a shared position. Do you have any examples of what should be included in job descriptions for AHD personnel?
Having a shared position is a great way to build collaboration between the organizations involved in your AHD partnership and solidify that relationship. The job description you create will depend on the particular structure and focus of your partnership, but a number of common elements appear in job descriptions for personnel with responsibilities related to managing or coordinating AHD partnerships. In general, you may wish to consider responsibilities aimed at facilitating collaborative groups, such as:
  • Coordinate all aspects of administration of the AHD partnership
  • Serve as the liaison between the health department and the academic institution(s), and build the relationship between those organizations
  • Facilitate interaction and collaboration among partners
  • Serve as the primary point of contact for AHD partnership activities
  • Serve on AHD steering committee and coordinate committee meetings
  • Serve on workforce development committee or other committees relevant to AHD partnership activities
  • Maintain AHD website, develop communications materials, and ensure timely communication of information relevant to the AHD partnership
  • Process affiliation agreements between the organizations
  • Respond to internal and external inquiries for information about the AHD partnership
  • Engage in strategic planning for the AHD partnership, and establish goals and objectives for partnership programs
  • Develop AHD partnership annual report
AHD coordinators may also be involved in activities specific to the goals of the AHD partnership, such as enhancing practice-based educational experiences for students or facilitating collaborative research projects, with related job responsibilities. For example:
  • Oversee all aspects of student internship program
    • Plan, implement, coordinate, and evaluate internship experiences
    • Work with health department and academic institution stakeholders to design and implement internship program procedures and processes
    • Work with faculty and students to provide meaningful and mutually beneficial opportunities for engagement in program planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation
    • Serve as the primary point of contact for the internship program
    • Coordinate staff for guiding and monitoring internship activities
    • Develop and maintain internship program materials
    • Establish and maintain intake, orientation, and evaluation processes for internships
    • Prepare students for internship placements
    • Supervise and mentor students
    • Develop and maintain a list of internships and projects
  • Facilitate joint research projects
    • Serve as the primary point of contact for administration and coordination of AHD-related research activities
    • Work with health department and academic institution leadership to identify priority areas for research
    • Collaborate with health department and academic institution stakeholders on research development
    • Develop grant proposals
    • Oversee research project activities
    • Conduct needs assessments for resources to enhance collaborative public health research
    • Develop and maintain list of joint research projects
Finally, as you search for the right person to fill this role, several skills or experiences may help position your new colleague for success in the job:
  • Leadership skills
  • Project management skills
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Meeting facilitation skills
  • Experience coordinating collaborative public health projects
  • Experience supervising and mentoring students
  • Experience with public health research
  • Knowledge of public health practice
  • Flexibility, adaptability, initiative, and the ability to work independently
I hope this offers ideas to help get you started, and I encourage others to share their suggestions in the Comments section below. A number of individuals and organizations have shared information that was instrumental in putting this post together and deserve our thanks, including Julie Grubaugh, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT)/Knox County Health Department (TN); Paula Masters, East Tennessee State University; Ashley Stockwell, Worcester Division of Public Health (MA); Sophie Wenzel, Virginia Tech; and Christian Williams, Belmont University. You can find job descriptions for AHD coordination roles in the UT-Knox County AHD and the New River AHD on their websites.

Ask the AHD Expert is a quarterly column of the Academic Health Department Learning Community. Have a question for our AHD experts? Submit your question today by email to for an opportunity to be featured in next quarter’s column! For more information about the AHD Learning Community or the Ask the AHD Expert column, please visit or contact Kathleen Amos at


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