Public health works in countless ways to make our world better. Find out how public health makes a difference by getting to know a few APHA members. We asked them: What public health work are you doing in your community right now, and how do you hope it will make a difference? Why did you decide to work in the field of public health? What value do you find in being an APHA member?
Using data to improve health
I am Director of the Office of Health Data and Research at the Mississippi State Department of Health. Mississippi is a rural state and has been ranked as one of the highest states in infant mortality, obesity, chronic disease mortality and associated risk factors. In addition, there are significant racial disparities in all the conditions listed. My hope is though my work, especially through data, to action to reduce infant mortality rate and chronic conditions along with the racial disparities in Mississippi and beyond.
Spurring change with statistics
I have a PhD in Biostatistics. Public health is the best field for biostatistics application. One of the example is to use trend analysis to monitor youth risk behaviors, such as tobacco use and physical inactivity. We usually share the data with state legislators, schools and parents to prevent students from using tobacco and keeping them physically active in the first place.
Being a leader and learning new ideas
I have been an APHA members for 15 years. It's very valuable to be a member of this big association. I have gained tremendous knowledge and skills by attending the APHA conferences. In addition, APHA provides a lot of leadership opportunities. I have served as the Applied Public Health Statistics Section Councilor, Program Chair and Chair. I found being an APHA member is very rewarding. I often learn new ideas from other APHA members. These have made me more efficient and effective in leading a large office with epidemiologists and biostatisticians at a state department of health.
Engaging the community in addressing disparities
I just finished co-editing a book (Public Health Research Methods for Partnerships and Practice; forthcoming 2018 Routledge) on training community health stakeholders in public health research methods so that they can engage in community-academic partnerships as equitable stakeholders. In addition, I am working on validating a quantitative survey measure that assesses the level of community stakeholder engagement in research studies from the community stakeholder perspective. There is evidence to suggest that engaging those populations most impacted is essential to developing solutions that address health disparities. I hope my work contributes to developing, implementing and evaluating community-academic partnerships.
A place to improve health
Public health seemed like a great place for me to use my statistics skills to improve health in minority and medically underserved communities (like the one I grew up in). I love the idea of the community being my patient with the goal of building healthy communities. I also love the fact that public health is such a diverse field with so many different areas that I get to work across diseases/conditions, use different methods, and work with different populations/communities. No two days are the same and I never get bored.
Satisfying all my public health interests
I think of APHA as all things public health. It is the one place that satisfies all of my public health interest including biostatistics, health disparities, community engaged research, and public health education. I love the Annual Meeting and the webinars. The fact that I can be a member of the Applied Public Health Statistics Section, Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section, and the Community-Based Public Health Caucus allows me to network with colleagues who work in the various areas of public health that interest me.
Exploring new HIV prevention methods
Currently, I am working as a Research Project Manager on several rectal microbicide clinical trials at The University of Pennsylvania. I hope that through my work I can help raise awareness of new and innovative HIV prevention methods.
Combining two passions
I decided to work in the public health field after doing some soul-searching in college. I knew that I wanted to help individuals across the globe; however, I was unsure on how to do that. After discovering that public health would award me the opportunity to study global health as a concentration, I was sold. After learning about the HIV epidemic, I knew that I wanted to work with vulnerable populations to help eradicate the disease. Through this work, I have been able to combine my passion for travel as well as my passion for helping those in need!
Networking, learning and working together
Since my first introduction to APHA in 2013, I have been able to network with some of my field’s top professionals while learning about my own potential. After attending the 2014 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, I was hooked. By getting heavily involved in the Student Assembly, I was able to build my leadership skills and take what I have learned an incorporate them into my job. Additionally, APHA has allowed me to build a professional/personal relationships with some of my colleagues since we are all here for a common goal, to create the healthiest nation in one generation!
MORE APHA MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS