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 these three questions: 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?
Bringing public health to a clinical setting
I currently manage a robust HIV program based within Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio. Our program offers wrap around services to clients and includes community outreach across the city. In my role I bring the public health focus to a clinical setting and expand our reach through the community. I hope someday to work myself out of a job when HIV is eradicated, but until then I will keep speaking with every person I meet about the importance of sexual health and testing. As a manager I really enjoy investing in the career paths of my younger colleagues who are just starting out and looking at all their options within this huge field. It’s great to be a public health mentor.
Finding the joy
I have worked in HIV since 1988. I never thought I would still be in the same field but honestly nothing else has seemed as exciting, or as meaningful as working with people and communities to manage conditions they are afraid to discuss. I have been fortunate enough to work overseas in Asia and Africa while still being current on domestic health issues. Name another field that gives you so much flexibility and joy!
Keeping current and staying connected
I really love getting The Nation's Health and seeing all the work that happens each month as well as program successes. Public health is a huge field, and although my focus is on HIV and program management, I use APHA to keep current on what’s happening in nutrition, transportation/activity, school lunches, aging, etc. I have found that getting active in my section (Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health) has really helped me stay connected to APHA and to some amazing leaders within that field. My network has spread across the United States and I have a clearer picture on how to work with APHA in terms of policy and action items. We really do amazing work 365 days a year.
Reaching hundreds, one person at a time
I’m working to help educate people about diabetes management, helping them understand that although we have a lot of technology to deploy, the best tools we have for ensuring our long-term health are personal discipline and being intelligent about sugar. I also encourage people to remember the importance of exercise for the management of their health whether they are diabetic or not. I’m training dozens of students, most of whom will go into the health professions, on how diabetes is managed on a daily basis. I have mentored nearly 1,000 people in this area over the last 25 years.
I also do some motivational speaking to encourage people to take responsibility not only for their own lives but also to reach out and engage themselves with the people around them who often need help and have no one to assist them. Hopefully by doing so I can help others access the kinds of resources I have built for myself.
Turning personal issues into public health advocacy
I’m totally blind and a very brittle Type 1 diabetic. I have training in public affairs and genetics; I’m well aware that millions are less fortunate than I have been with respect to opportunity and education. Millions of people with chronic health challenges don’t have the resources I have to help me manage my health. That has pushed me to advocate for improvements in how we teach health professionals about how patients experience disease. With all of these things in my life, work in public health is more calling than choice for me.
Making connections, sharing solutions
Being an APHA member helps me connect with thousands of people who have similar interests. It makes me part of the largest organization in the country advocating for increased attention to public health...the best and most effective investment we can make to ensure that Americans live long, productive and healthy lives.
ELIZABETH GRAY BAYNE
Using mass media to change behavior
I've directed and produced over half a dozen PSAs and short video documentaries for non-profit and health organizations in my community. My hope is that each project will raise awareness and inspire behavior change in target audiences when they're viewed on television or online.
I was initially pre-med in college and completed the required math and science credits and even took the MCATS for medical school. But in my senior year I attended an information session from the university's school of public health. Up until that point I'd never heard of the field. Its emphasis on prevention over medicine's focus on treatment resonated with me. Why let people get sick in the first place if it can be prevented?
Inspired by the diversity of great work at APHA
Since my first conference as a presenter while still in graduate school, I've been in love with the incredible diversity of public health issues covered in APHA's Annual Meetings and monthly publications. My feet would burn after running from session to session during a typical conference day. There was just so much information and so many people doing great work. It inspires and reassures me that we're on the way to creating a healthier society, and APHA keeps me connected to everything.
Taking on health disparities
Most of my public health work is investigating health informatics, information technology, and telehealth/telemedicine interventions to address various health disparities. In collaboration with the APHA Health Informatics Information Technology Section, I founded and direct the HIIT Disparities campaign to address various health disparities (e.g., diabetes, obesity, poor nutrition, cancer, etc.) with innovative solutions that are developed by community members. Additionally, under non-profit organization, The Juxtopia Group, Inc., I work with the Juxtopia® Urban Innovation and Cooperative Entrepreneurship (JUICE) Network program to develop culturally accepted and affordable public health interventions for urban communities adversely impact by health disparities.
Using computer skills to improve health
In year 2000, early in my career, my mentor Dr. Diane Adams, the founder and Chair Emeritus of the APHA HIIT Section, exposed me to the field of public health and how I could apply my computer science training to advance public health for all populations. Because of my propensity to improve the performance of populations underserved and disadvantaged, I make an early commitment to address the needs of this populations with measurably effective public health interventions.
Working to build the healthiest nation
The value of my being an APHA member is the access and interaction with various persons and resources that assist with continuous systemic improvements in public health so that we can have the healthiest nation in one generation.
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