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At the Core of At the Core: Why the NCSD STD Program Core Components Are So Important to STD Directors

When I started in 2006 as a new STD project director, I was eager to understand the program that I was now hired to manage and how this program would meet the expectations of the CDC federally funded prevention and care services.  Staff, disease intervention performance, community partnership and surveillance seemed to be working exceptionally well on all levels, but what was not so clear was in comparison to what.  What was the bar against which this program measured?

Often what I heard was Vermont was different—rural is not the same as urban.  Surely there had to be some universal guidance for program operations that would be applicable for guidance, right?  The first document that I obtained was the STD Program Operations Guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The guidelines are clear and exhaustive, yet I often wondered how could all of these fundamentals of excellence be integrated within a year?  Previous annual and interim reports also clearly listed the activities conducted, but what else was expected of my program?  Then to my joy, I was introduced to NCSD’s Core Components document by one of my Region I partners.  Finally, the grail of which I sought was found.

While different in breath from the CDC’s Program Operations Guidelines, the mission and guidance of NCSD’s Core Components remains similar in reach of STD prevention and care. The document gave me clear insight as to why a number of activities in my program were performed and how my program could be modified to continue to achieve excellence while evolving, as opposed to simply relying upon the adage “this is the way we have always done it.”  Additionally, this tool provides a paradigm upon which to establish priorities, as opposed ascribing priority status to all activities.  As we all know, when all things are considered a priority, nothing truly is. 

STD Directors from Region I are currently working to ensure that 25 of the essential and elective health activities of the Core Components document are integrated into our programs.  Though we in Region I operate in a variety of environments (rural and urban) and see a range in STD morbidity, we were able to reach consensus on what program activities should be achieved.

-- Daniel Daltry, HIV/AIDS, STD, and Hepatitis Program Care Chief
   Vermont Department of Health

NCSD's STD Program Core Components and Strategies - 2012 can be found here.

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