Foundations for Local Public Health Practice

Are you new to local public health in Massachusetts or do you need to know the fundamentals of local public health practice?

Foundations is a free, self-paced online extended studies course that gives new and experienced local public health practitioners the core knowledge and skills necessary to increase the impact and efficiency of their work.

Suggested Audience:

  • Public Health Staff (i.e. agents, directors, emergency preparedness coordinators or planners,
    environmental health sanitarians or specialists, health inspectors, health officers, sanitarians, public health nurses)
  • Members of governing bodies (boards of health, commissioners)
  • Professionals new to the field
  • Professionals with experience and an interest in advancing knowledge and skills

Anticipated Hours to complete course: ~35 hours

After enrolling in Foundations for Local Public Health Practice, you will take a series of On Your Time trainings that provide an introduction to public health, and cover legal and administrative matters, environmental health, community health and population health, and more. Upon completion of ~35 hours of training, with a minimum score of 80% learners will receive a certificate of completion.


No matter where people are in Massachusetts (at home, work, school, or play) local boards of health (LBOH) are responsible to ensure their safety and well-being. With a LBOH for each of its 351 cities and towns, taking a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to local public health practice is a key to success. Using the frameworks of the ten essential public health services and the foundational public health services, this course prepares local public health practitioners to: promote the physical, behavioral, environmental, social, and economic conditions that improve health and well-being; prevent illness, disease, injury, and premature death; and eliminate health disparities.

Enroll This course requires registration and there is no audit option.

Training Overview

    • Audience: New and seasoned public health professionals who have an interest in advancing their knowledge and building their skills to practice public health in Massachusetts. Course participants may be from a Massachusetts local, regional, or state public health agency
    • Format: Online, self-paced
    • Price: Free
    • Length: 35 hours
    • Contact hours: REHS and Massachusetts CHO, RS, RN
      Important note: When you complete each required On Your Time course, you can print or save a certificate that lists the number of contact hours earned and your post-test score. If you didn’t print or save your certificates, you can get a copy in your learner profile (accessed from the Login/Register page by selecting Status of Training Participation). The final section of the Foundations Course (Final Topics) provides an additional 4 contact hours that will print on the Certificate of Course Completion.
    • Competencies: Analytical/Assessment
      Policy Development
      Program Planning
      Cultural Competency
      Community Dimensions of Practice
      Emergency Preparedness
      Public Health Sciences
    • Learning level: Performance
    • Prerequisites: None

What you’ll learn

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Plan for emergency communication, create effective messages, and interact with the media and community in times of crisis
  • Advocate for a public health issue using seven basic steps
  • Assess your agency’s public health infrastructure and programs as compared to the foundational areas and capabilities outlined in the FPHS model
  • Explain the key findings and recommendations from the final report of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health (June 2019)
  • Apply lessons learned from public health problems of the past to inform efforts to overcome current public health issues

Subject Matter Expert

  • Kathleen MacVarish
    Associate Professor of the Practice
    Boston University School of Public Health


This training was supported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) with funds made available by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant 4500-1002. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.
This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB6HP27877 “Regional Public Health Training Center Program.” This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.