What inspired you to study public health?
Public health is a field that combines all my interests, including anthropology, nutrition, active living, and helping others to live well. In my previous life, I worked part-time as a Weight Watchers Leader, participating first hand in combating obesity in adults and adolescents. As a leader, I worked with members and guided them through weekly themes, including portion control, behavior modification, and making better food choices. I asked thought-provoking questions designed to help them strategize their own solutions to personal challenges, as well as recognize and celebrate their successes both on and off the scale.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
My most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to completely immerse myself in my topic of interest: the rollout of the Health Insurance Marketplace in Florida. Focusing on enrollment outreach and consumer assistance, I researched effective outreach and enrollment activities, observed a large-scale enrollment event, and analyzed survey data about the first open enrollment period. The survey findings will be crucial to organizations as they plan for the 2015 enrollment period.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?
You must not let the word “no” keep you from pursuing your project or research idea. You must be open to revisions to your proposal, smart in your selection of advisors and partners, and, most of all, be your own advocate.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
I think that the public health field should be focusing on adequately disseminating best practices among public health partners. I once heard that “success leaves clues.” Why try to reinvent the wheel, especially when many organizations are faced with limited resources? Dissemination of best practices and lessons learned should be paramount. Innovation in public health should not come at the expense of implementing existing sustainable and evidence-based projects and policies on a broader scale.