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Putting Pen to Paper: Writing Commissioned Corps Awards

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  1. Commissioned Corps Liaison Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 11-20-13 slides with appendix and resources Putting Pen to Paper:Writing Commissioned Corps Awards LCDR David Hunter 1

  2. Disclaimer • The content of this presentation is a anecdotally compiled assortment of information, suggestions and tips gathered from officer feedback. • It is not intended to reflect the intent or position of the CDC Commissioned Corps Awards Board. • The purpose of this presentation is to provide officers with suggestions, helpful hints, and general guidance for writing strong awards nominations. • Officers should confer with their awards representative for specific policies, deadlines, and parameters for submitting nominations. 2

  3. One day, your supervisor says, “You deserve an award for this work.” 3

  4. …and now what? & 4

  5. Here is your canvas… 5

  6. 2 pages 1” Margins 12 point font Times New Roman 6

  7. Four Sections to the Narrative Introduction Accomplishments Impacts Conclusion Award Narrative 7

  8. Defining “Accomplishment” Answers the question: What did the officer do? Action-oriented! 8

  9. Make a List LCDR John Doe did… 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 9

  10. Writing Guidelines Action Verbs: Led Directed Coordinated Wrote Planned Implemented Performed Provided Established Facilitated Delivered Designed • Use action verbs • Avoid the passive tense • Avoid jargon • Avoid technical language • Be clear and concise • Excise irrelevant details • Clearly identify how the officer showed leadership • Quantify as much as possible 10

  11. Example Accomplishment LCDR John Doe created a technical assistance program. A1 11

  12. #s and %s What activities did this include? For who? LCDR John Doe created a technical assistance program for improving emergency operations activities at local health departments. How many activities? How many people attended? How did he demonstrate leadership? What other pieces of this project can be counted? A1 12

  13. #s and %s Conducted 10 webinar trainings Conducted 6 site visits Created 4 job aid tools LCDR Doe... Developed 3 action plans Reviewed 20 project proposals 13

  14. #s and %s Conducted 10 webinar trainings • 112 participants • Recorded sessions accessed 73 times LCDR Doe... 14

  15. #s and %s Conducted 6 site visits • 60 staff attended • 13 drills observed • 6 recommendation reports written LCDR Doe... 15

  16. Impacts…(They’re why any of this work matters) 16

  17. Defining “Impact” Answers the question: What happened as a resultof the officer’s work? Outcome-oriented! 17

  18. Actions and Effects LCDR John Doe implements a technical assistance program A Health Department Emergency Operations Center functions better. 18

  19. List the Effects of Your Work As a result of this project, the following things happened… A) B) C) D) E) F) 19

  20. Writing Guidelines • Do not use future tense • Use quantitative information (avoid general terms like “many” and “some”) • Common measures that demonstrate impact • Lives saved • Illnesses reduced or prevented • Increased/improved behavior of receiving party/audience • Increased accessibility to resources • Increased efficiency of operations, actions, interventions • Financial savings • Staff time and energy savings 20

  21. #’s and %’s As a result of this technical assistance program, local health departments are able to better operate their Emergency Operations Centers. Faster? How do they operate better? Cheaper? More effective? 21

  22. #’s and %’s HD’s reduced time to assemble key staff after a disaster by 50% to under 1 hour. Faster! Elimination of duplicated activities reduced costs by $1K per month. Cheaper! More effective! HD staff demonstrated an knowledge increase of 25% after receiving the training 22

  23. Writing Strong Impact Statements 23

  24. Accomplishment: LCDR Doe delivered a training course to 100 staff from the state health department. Health department staff completed the training course. Poor Between the pre- and post-tests, knowledge increased among the 100 staff from the health department by 25%. Good 75% of staff (n=100) performed the training skill correctly, increasing production of deliverables by 30% during the first quarter. Great A1 24

  25. Formatting(It matters more than you think) 25

  26. Two Common Patterns Basic format Sequential format Background Accomplishment #1 Impact #1 Accomplishment #2 Impact #2 Accomplishment #3 Impact #3 Summary • Background • Accomplishments • Impact • Summary 26

  27. Organizing Text Paragraphs Bullets A2 27

  28. Relating Impacts to Accomplishments Impacts Accomplishments Basic or Sequential Format A 1 B 2 C 3 A 1 Basic Format B 2 C 3 1 Basic Format 2 A 28 3

  29. Putting it All Together • “Chunk” text • Use headers • Do not justify Enhance Readability Tell a Coherent Story • Group ‘like’ activities • Choose logical order Write clearly • Concise • Plain language • Jargon-free • Short 29

  30. Building Your Introduction: Cited For… “Cited for” section Rank, Name, PHS number, and award nomination centered at top 30

  31. Leading with a Clear Opening Statement A LCDR John Doe is nominated for the ____________ for ______ ___________________________ from [mm/yyyy] to [mm/yyyy]. B High-level description of the work and impacts achieved 31

  32. For Unit Awards: Naming Your Team Be specific Keep it simple Describe the project purpose “Team” is loosely defined Use the name to separate one award from another 32

  33. Factors that Determine the Appropriate Award Level A3 33

  34. Minimize Background Section 34

  35. Cap Your Narrative with a Brief Synopsis • Keep it simple • Reiterate overarching work • Aim for 4-5 lines 35

  36. Timing it right(Wait…but not too long) 36

  37. When do I submit? GO HOLD • Activities completed • Impacts visible • Natural break point • Timeframe expiring • Up for promotion • Additional activities up coming • Can cluster with related activities • Not urgent for promotion 37

  38. Clustering Projects into a Common Theme Project A Project B Project D Project C Project E Project F Time 38

  39. Nominations Can Expire • 13 months from the final activity • Nominator must sign the 6342 form within timeframe Outbreak response for illness X Protocol for illness X revised END 9/2011 1/2012 10/2011 2/2013 39

  40. Package it up (the easy stuff) 40

  41. The Complete Packet Forms Narrative Award History Unit award attachments A4 41

  42. Note: blue font just for presentation visibility purposes EXAMPLE Earthquake Preparedness Response Team 02/2011 02/2012 OUC 1 2 Outstanding response efforts in the wake of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Reno, Nevada 3 CDC/OPHPR/DX/XB 99999 CAPT Jake Sully CDC/OPHPR/DX/XB LT Brenda Smith 00000 03.2012 4 Renee Brown CDR Renee Brown, Associate Director, OPHPR 5 Ann Walker, Chief, XB A4 42 CAPT Joe Smith, Director, DX Dr. Ali Khan, Director, OPHPR

  43. “Cited For” Excise the “cited for” section word for word from the narrative and insert into the 6342 form. “Cited for” section 123 characters 43

  44. John Hancocks (Good ole’ blue or black) 44

  45. Getting Signatures • Required signatures include: • Nominator • Branch Chief • Division Director • EPO Director for EIS Officers • Center Director • Signatures are only required for the officer’s operational unit and above • Each Division follows a different process • Consult with your Awards Board Rep for specific instructions Example: Officer Jones works in his Division OD office; therefore, only division and center signatures would be required 45

  46. Nominator Selection • Who can be a nominator? • Generally, anyone can be a nominator • Do not nominate your own supervisor • Confer with an officer before nominating them • The nominator for a Unit Award cannot also be listed as a participant 46

  47. Endorsement Signatures • Nominator’s signature dated first • Dates must be in chronological order • Two or more sequential dates can be the same OK CM 4/8/12 CM 4/8/12 4/11/12 CM 47

  48. Endorsement Challenges • PHS 6342 forms have room for 3 endorsements • Additional endorsements go in the comments section 1 2 3 4 A4 48

  49. Recognition of Non-Officers on Unit Awards • Non-officers must be recognized elsewhere • Usually done via CDC awards nominations Example A4

  50. Lots of red ink (Minimizing revisions) 50