What inspired you to study public health?
After almost 20 years as a first responder in different settings, I wanted to contribute further upstream in creating healthy communities. I pursued an MPH while working full time as a firefighter/EMT, and then switched careers to work in health philanthropy and health care policy. My work in health philanthropy led me to focus on health disparities and health equity, and as a result I am pursuing and nearing completion of a DrPH in Health Equity and Social Justice.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
My studies have helped me to gain additional subject matter expertise in health equity and public health, while developing leadership competencies which I’ve learned and practiced in the classroom and applied in my workplace.
Public health is a very broad field, and is more than the healthcare system. Don’t think that work addressing social determinants of health is any less important – or more important – than clinical care. We need both areas of public health to function well in order to have healthy communities.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
The public health field should focus on advocating for increased investments in social determinants of health as well as increased access to modernized primary health care. It’s not either SDOH or primary care – it’s “both, and”.