iKure Internship – Update 2

June 22, 2015 by

And we’re off! Hard to believe the second week is coming to a close already…this week we focused more on the technology side of the project – getting the surveys and forms uploaded and ready for the Community Health Workers to use on the tablets!

This week I learned more about the technology aspect of our project. We are using a platform called ODK to digitize our surveys. Another U of M student helped to create these surveys and we have been playing around with it to understand the program and see how easy it is for the Community Health Workers to navigate. ODK has been really helpful to various projects around the world and I’m intrigued to see how it will work for our project. We still need to get the program on to all of the tablets so that we can use them out in the rural areas, but hopefully that will be done soon. We’ve done some preliminary playing around with it on one of the tablets, so that’s been helpful in shaping our game plan as we get ready to train.

A picture of the tablet that we are using: 20150618_094542_002

I also learned a lot about how research ethics works here in India. There’s an Indian Council of Medical Research (the ICMR) and all research projects need to have an Ethics Committee, which has to be formed by people of different professional backgrounds – lawyers, sociologists, clinicians, professors, laymen, etc. It was very neat to see the two aspects of informed consent in our research and how they differ but ultimately converge on a goal of ethical research practices.

The highlight of my week this week was the trip to the village of Godapiasal, outside of Salboni, which is about 3.5 hours away from Kolkata! It is always my favorite part to work directly with the people we want to work with and we want to help. After a rather uneventful journey in the early (but really sunny!) hours of the day, we reached the village around 9:30am and saw the building in which iKure clinics are conducted. The village is near the OCL Factory (a cement factory) and the community health workers and the government ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers serve the people in this area. We spoke with some of the workers on Thursday to get their opinions on how they felt about the surveys’ usability and ease on the tablets. They all really liked the idea of being able to use the tablets (there were many tales of lost notes due to rain), and we got to troubleshoot with them about how they felt about the survey questions.

We will eventually be conducting trainings on how they should administer the surveys to study subjects, but it was exciting to see and hear about how much they liked the platform for the research. It also gave us some important insight into some facets we can fix before officially training the CHW in the near future.

Pictures from our day trip to Godapiasal:

Selfie at the clinic :D20150618_100438

The iKure clinic welcome signs: 20150618_133725 20150618_095652

The iKure clinic surroundings: 20150618_09420820150618_094302

Troubleshooting the research surveys with 2 ASHA workers: IMG_20150619_202048

Anjuli, Jackie and Nick hard at work testing their own application with the ASHA workers: 20150618_123903

Overall it was a fantastic trip and I’m very excited for more visits out “to the field” as it’s been called! This week is a working Saturday week, so it was a long workweek, but definitely filled with fun adventures and lessons to make our work progress better…looking forward to the adventures that next week will bring!

iKure Internship – Week 1

June 12, 2015 by

aparnaIt’s hard to believe how a country that once just screamed sentiments of family, food and carefree fun can look so different after just a year at the School of Public Health. Immediately after getting off the plane, the humidity hits you (a punch to the hair) and the mosquitoes and cockroaches are everywhere. Getting in the cab, the familiar cacophony of obnoxious car and singsong truck horns, bicycles and motorcycles all weaving around seemed scary not funny like it once did. There was definitely some bliss in the ignorance that were my childhood India trips!

A picture of the traffic that greeted me so earnestly: 20150604_235842

The neatest thing I noticed this time, compared to the last time I had visited, were the public health bulletins all over the city of Kolkata – from prostate cancer, to general healthcare messages. It was heartening to see that preventive measures were starting to permeate the culture here…unfortunately I couldn’t capture a non blurry image of one…will look out for more.

I just finished the first week of my internship here at iKure in Kolkata. It’s a company with a really novel approach, synergizing technology and medicine for improved healthcare outcomes, and it’s been great seeing how they work! The first couple days we tried to iron out differences to get protocols and surveys ready for use. It’s cliche, but I really do take our American infrastructure for granted and never remember that until I’m elsewhere in the world. I’ll try to remember this the next time the internet wigs out for a second back in America; it’s nothing compared to the temperament of the internet here! It really dictates the speed at which we can accomplish any of our work. It seems like each day we got one step closer to our final goal: begin training the community health workers to collect data on maternal and child health outcomes (descriptive epidemiology) in rural West Bengal.

As the week drew to a close, I felt more and more pieces come together. I’m hoping that next week we will be able to get out into the field and get things going! It’s very hard to believe that an entire week has passed so far….I realize I haven’t been taking too many pictures – more to come for sure!

Obligatory cubicle selfie:20150606_113013

Some of my adventures at the gigantic mall I live right next to – discovered some oatmeal (if you look closely – they are masala flavored ;) )!20150611_195605

internship season

May 16, 2015 by

In the crazy wrap up of the semester, it’s been difficult to work on all of my online writing projects, but now that it’s summer I will have more time- in theory. Because  summer and for SPH students transitioning into second year, that means it’s internship season. We are all dispersed to new locations across Michigan, the United States and across the globe to see what public health looks like in action. It’s incredibly exciting and I cannot wait to see the wonderful work my classmates and colleagues will accomplish and learn this summer. It will be a summer of growth and challenge, that’s for certain.

My internship is with the University of Michigan’s MHealthy- a branch of their human resources department devoted to Health and Wellness of employees of the university. I am very excited to begin my work on projects and interventions, specifically in the Stress Management and Risk Reduction department. If there’s one thing I know as a student, it’s stress!

Some of my classmate-friends are headed out of the country! Check out Jhordan’s awesome blog documenting her summer in Chile. Another friend is already in Thailand, and a third is headed to India at the end of this month.

I will attempt to keep you all up to speed on my internship here on the SPH blog, but to also write about a few things that I learned in my last few weeks of second semester- like meeting a former Surgeon General of the U.S., potentially starting a new student org and UMMA’s student art night. I hope you’re all well, and happy summer! :)

Diptheria, Listeria….Hypsteria?!

April 1, 2015 by

aparnaIt’s hard to believe that my first year as a grad student is coming to an end!

Throughout the last few months, I have found so many reasons to rediscover my love for Ann Arbor, none of which include the ridiculous cold of course!

Compared to my experience as an undergrad student here, I’ve loved my grad experience a lot more. Any of you who are thinking about coming here from U of M – DO IT! It seems kind of crazy to think that anywhere on campus can be thought of as “small,” but that is exactly what SPH has been for me – a small, close knit community of friends, colleagues, faculty and staff that all work together for the betterment of the community.

I’ve enjoyed my experience in extracurricular activities here – most notably PHAST! You can read all about our experiences in Texas on the Frontlines Blog! It was great to see how a few months in the classroom could be turned into first hand knowledge a stone’s throw from Mexico.

IMG_3914 (It says PHAST 15 in the sand)

Another reason to love being a grad student here – everyone is so, so funny! Of course, as an epidemiology student, we’ve talked about all the main epidemic players – Ebola, Listeria, vaccine-preventable illness…but leave it to UMSPH to come out with breaking news on the latest epidemic – Hypsteria!

I’ll publish another post reflecting fully on my first year’s experience as well as preparations for my summer internship, but for now, watch the video to see why “Go Blue” is the only place you’ll ever need to go!

Speaking Plainly

March 31, 2015 by

images

I’ve found that when you’re passionate and knowledgeable, succinct writing is a challenge. Greater challenge still is when you are writing for a wider audience and you want those few words to be interesting and meaningful.  Writing in the Health Communication field certainly checks off all of these boxes in my mind, so I was happily anticipating my conversation with HBHE alum Holly Derry– who is a Behavioral Science Team Leader at the Center for Health Communications Research here at the University of Michigan- because I knew she’d be able to shed some light on the topic. I also wanted to know something of her background, because everyone here at U of M has a fascinating career journey.

 PK: What is your background- where did you obtain your MPH? Did you do a lot of Health Communication research during your time in school?
HD: I got my MPH from UM SPH in 1997 (I’m old!). I tried to take as many health comm classes as I could, but fewer were offered at that time, compared to now. Back then, the major focus of HBHE was more in the community organizing side of things, so I had fewer options. Still, Vic Strecher had just started, so it picked up eventually. Since then, I’ve audited some classes – Ken’s Health Comm class, Brian’s Sticky class, and Ken’s MI class.

PK: What drew you to the field of Health Communication research? What made you chose CHCR as a place of work?

HD: I was a psych major in undergrad and had always had my eye on clinical psych… until I did a semester-long stint at a crisis hotline calling center (with no training) and felt like I was in WAY over my head. Around that same time, I was taking a health psych class, and it really felt right. Then, I started to look into MPH programs (I didn’t even know they existed until then)… and got into UM. Once at UM, I met Vic Strecher at orientation (literally day 1!!), and he sold me on the principal behind CHCR: get all the people who develop health interventions  (designers, programmers, writers) under the same roof so they work together, speak the same language, and learn from each other. I was hooked. My second year of grad school (1996), I worked here at CHCR as a student… and then got a full-time job after I graduated.
 PK: Is there a specific population or topic you are particularly interested in?

HD: I’m fairly agnostic about the population and topic I work on – my general interest is tailoring the approach, technology, and (of course) messages to ANY topic and population. And frankly, this is what keeps my job interesting… for example:  thinking about designing an intervention for 65-year-old type 2 diabetics vs. 12-year-old girls in an after school exercise program.

PK: Do you have any tips/resources for me as an aspiring content/health comm writer about writing in plain language? [plain language: is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. read more about it here]

HD: I’m so excited you’re asking this question! It means you’re thinking about it – which is more than can be said for a LOT of others!!
1. It’s very difficult to switch from plain language writing (for lay people) and writing for your professors or funders. That said, *everyone appreciates plain language*… so writing plainly is ALWAYS a good thing. You’ll elaborate more and be less worried about multi-syllabic words in academic writing… but using the inverted pyramid and active voice are always always always good things.
2. I went to a health literacy workshop in Maine a few years back. It was helpful and had some good hands-on practice… it’s pricey, though, so you may want to wait to ask your first employer to send you to this or something like it.
3. Read “Letting go of the words.” Then read it again. Live it. Love it. Memorize it. Spread the word!!
4. If you need to target a certain reading level, I recommend using the SMOG test for reading level. It’s free and highly recommended by literacy experts. (Technically, experts recommend another one first – maybe Flesh-Kincaid? or Fog? can’t remember – but it’s expensive.) There are tons of websites where you can copy and paste your text and get a SMOG reading level. I use this one  Do NOT use Word’s built-in reading level calculator, if you can avoid it.
5. NCI offers this 1-hour online training, which isn’t bad. If you’re already fairly good, it may not be that helpful… but it’s only an hour (and it’s free)!
6. Please never ever ever call it “dumbing it down.” If you’re dumbing it down, you’re not doing it right. Plain language is about taking complicated ideas and wording and structuring them in a way that’s accessible to a wider audience. It’s partially about word choice… but it’s also about formatting it in a way that matches how people actually read.
7. Other resources (you probably already know about these):
8. If someone wants you to get down to 3rd grade reading level, be skeptical. In my experience, this request comes from either a) committees, or b) people who don’t really understand plain language and literacy issues, or c) both. If an audience’s reading level is concerning (low) enough, you probably shouldn’t be using written words at all. Instead, consider audio or video delivery. If people are literate… then an 8th grade level feels reasonable. Any less than that will alienate stronger readers and be stilted / awkward to read. Of course, this is an oversimplification and definitely represents a soap-box of mine… but there it is.

PK: How much has technology become a part of the health communications you create? Are the majority of your experimental interventions technology now?

HD: Technology is as integral as the words I write in our programs. I could write the best words in the world, but if they’re on a brochure in a grocery store lobby, no one will read them. If it’s on a device in their pocket… now we’re in business.
And yes, all of our interventions are tech-based. They have always been computer-based, because the tailoring we do starts from a computer-operated system. But back in the day, our tailoring system would generate print materials individualized for a particular person and then be mailed off. Now, we have a system that will deliver our tailored content in any way we can imagine – it will call people using IVR (interactive voice recognition), or deliver content to texts, websites, and mobile apps.

PK: Do you have a mentor or colleague in your professional life that has been influential?

HD: There are a LOT of people who have been influential in my career… At SPH, Ken Resnicow and Brian Zikmund-Fisher remain influential. Brian also works with Angie Fagerlin (at CBSSM –Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan), and I’ve learned a ton from them and their research. Between these 3, they’re the ones I go to when I need advice or have questions.

PK: What are some trends you have noticed in the health communication field that would be important for me to be aware of/keep an eye as I go forward in my career?

HD: Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. We have to think about smaller devices (less real estate for the info we provide). We have to imagine that people aren’t reading our carefully-crafted paragraphs while comfortably seated in their quiet, private offices and giving us their undivided attention. They’re at a bus stop. They’re in a meeting. They’re at a red light. They’re having a conversation at the same time. They steal minutes (or seconds) to check something between (or while) doing other things… and so how do get our intervention to be the thing they check – to track what they eat, their exercise, whether they’ve taken their meds, etc. For that matter, how can we get the device to track things automatically so they don’t have to answer so many questions?
Related, how much information will people read at any one time? How do you craft an intervention that’s responsive to people’s reading styles? On the internet (as you’ll learn if you read “Letting go of the words,”) people skim and scan. This is why plain language is SO IMPORTANT. Use headings. Use the inverted pyramid. Step away from “walls of text.”
I think some answers to these questions include:
– use fewer words (say the right things, not all the things)
– find teachable moments (say the right things at the right time)
– infographics (say more with fewer words by using images)

Thanks very much to Ms. Derry for letting me interview her. I hope this helps anyone interested in Health Communications or any other potential writers out there- speaking plainly is not as hard as you may think! 

Economic development and health outcomes: The case of the Dominican Republic

March 24, 2015 by

tanya

The World Bank classifies the Dominican Republic (DR) as an upper-middle income economy with a $5,770 gross national income per capita (WB, 2015). The country is one of the top performers in terms of economic growth in Latin America. Paradoxically, after analyzing main social indicators one wonders why this economic development has not been translated into notable social progress over the years. In this blog I will focus on public health.

Aiming towards universal health coverage would contribute to reducing the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure. High health costs often have severe consequences in increasing poverty headcounts. In the DR there are important obstacles that prevent the country from reaching universal health coverage, such as very low government health expenditures and a big informal sector. Public health expenditure was 2.4% of GDP (WB, 2015) on average during 2000-2012, one of the lowest in Latin America.

Despite some achievements in health outcomes over the last decade, basic public health indicators such as infant mortality rate remain way above the Latin American average and worse than countries with similar levels of economic development like Costa Rica. In 2013, it stood at 23.6 per 1,000 live births, as compared to 8.4 per 1,000 live births in Costa Rica (WB, 2015).

Meeting the goals of the 2001 health reform and achieving universal health coverage is not an impossible task. For example, Thailand has had a universal health coverage scheme since 2002, when it had similar levels of public health spending as DR has today. It is a matter of designing the correct payment incentives based on performance indicators to improve quality in the system. Also, reforms should be piloted focusing on the most vulnerable populations that are affiliated to the national health insurance, SENASA. Currently, 29% of the population is affiliated through the subsidized regime (SISALRIL, 2015), but its expansion has been low given that it relies directly on budgetary appropriations. There is a significant opportunity for improvement if the mixed subsidized-contributive regime is fully developed, which allows for more poor people to be targeted into the subsidized regime.

The Dominican Republic is an amazing country with very favorable economic prospects. It is time to revisit the organization of the public health system and contribute to build a bridge between the status of upper-middle income country and its social indicators.

Being a graduate student instructor (GSI) v. graduate student research assistant (GSRA)

March 1, 2015 by

amy I have been fortunate enough to experience being both a graduate student instructor (GSI) and graduate student research assistant (GSRA) for the biostatistics department within my two years here. I was a GSI my first three semesters, and am currently a GSRA this last semester. While I think many graduate students incoming to UM, reputed as a large public research institution, are rearing to partner with faculty and partake in discovery, I see distinct pros and cons to both positions:

Pros and cons of being a GSI:

CRLT

UM’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching offers GSI resources

Pro:  Meeting new people. As a GSI my first semester–a time when everyone is a stranger!–I became close to four of my biostatistics classmates through long homework grading sessions, helping one another field questions during office hours, and managing class policy and administrative issues; moreover, I instantly met at least 70 fellow public health students from other, diverse departments within the School of Public Health (SPH), students with whom I would’ve never crossed paths if I were not their instructor. Because I met all these colleagues of mine on day 1, since then I’ve been able to smile, stop, and chat in the hallways when I frequently see a familiar face. It has made SPH a much more friendly place.

Pro: A fixed schedule. GSI-ing, as opposed to GSRA-ing, is a much more organized job affair in that there are dedicated times for your teaching responsibilities and you will rarely spend more hours than expected attending to them. Aside from the occasional request to meet outside of class for an extra tutoring session or overly in-depth homework question in email form (difficult to answer when that question is quantitative), GSI-ing doesn’t tend to spill outside the boundaries of your two laboratory sections, 2-3 office hours, and grading sessions.

Con: Student conduct issues. It is uncomfortable to encounter multiple assignments that are suspiciously identical, or seemingly copied from the solution manual. One might think that there is some satisfaction to catching cheating incidents, but I don’t think any teacher relishes the experience. No one likes to stir up drama surrounding academic dishonesty when the vast majority of students are attending class and diligently attempting assignments, struggling or not.

Pros and cons of being a GSRA:

Research

Pro: Learning and applying new methodology. Research has allowed me to move past the theory of statistical methods emphasized in coursework to actually applying these analyses to real-life clinical investigations run by epidemiologists, professors, and physicians in SPH, the UM Health System, and health centers across the nation. It’s eye-opening interacting closely with one or two faculty members on a professional as opposed to instructive level, seeing how they approach problems and gaining insight into harsh work-life balance of academia.

Pro: A flexible schedule. Just as how GSI-ing is nice in that one’s schedule is very strict, GSRA-ing is nice for the very opposite reason in that one’s schedule is quite flexible. If you have a slew of midterms coming up, it’s okay to delay some research tasks for a few days and catch up later, while abandoning one’s section as a GSI is clearly not an option. GSRA-ing involves more time-management skills, but accordingly more leeway in when and where you do your work.

Con: More hours. I can only speak for my own experience, but GSRA-ing has required many more hours per week than GSI-ing. It’s easy to get absorbed in a coding problem, or sit for hours muddling through a “dirty” dataset. While research work is open-ended and thus intriguing, it leaves less time to complete the traditional but mandatory homework assignments and studying for courses.

Retail Clinics and population health

February 20, 2015 by

tanya

Retail clinics (RCs) initiated as a response of the market to unmet needs of healthcare consumers for accessible, convenient, and cost-effective basic health services. As the clinics become a popular means of treating minor medical conditions at lower costs, they have established a niche in the health care system based on their convenience and accessibility for both insured and uninsured patients. Retail clinics are typically located in store chains that patients already visit on a regular basis, such as CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

FullSizeRender

The clinics can operate under three different business models: 1) the clinic is owned and operated by the parent store that houses it; 2) an independent company owns the clinic and partners with a retail store to house it; and 3) an integrated model where the clinic is owned by a hospital, a physician group, or another health care provider. Nearly three-quarters of clinics follow the first model (RAND, 2010).

The rapid expansion of RCs is attributed to costumers’ favorable response to the model. Convenient hours and locations are major factors in choosing the clinics. RCs generally employ a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant with off-site supervision by physician medical directors, providing services at accessible locations, shorter wait times, and lower costs.

FullSizeRender-2

Despite being a relatively new phenomenon, these clinics have the potential to increase access to basic health services to the underserved population. RCs have the necessary infrastructure –capacity for 17 million visits a year (Bureau of National Affairs, 2009)– to alleviate the shortage of primary care physicians that is intensified by the increase in demand for health services as a result of the 11.4 million newly insured under the Affordable Care Act. However, retail clinics have faced financial barriers to establishing contractual relationships with Medicaid. Also, they have to deal with state-level regulatory constraints including scope of practice laws and prohibitions against the corporate practice of medicine. These restrictions tend to limit the clinics’ ability to operate in medically underserved areas (Bartlett, 2011).

Massachusetts became the first state that adjusted its regulatory framework to fit RCs into their health system, by enacting in 2008 new regulations that specify the medical conditions and age groups that may be treated at the clinics. This proactive approach to design a tailored regulation for the operation of RCs is a good example for other states to consider how to better integrate RCs with traditional models of care. States Departments of Health play an important role in the development of this model, which has the potential to improve population health outcomes and decrease healthcare costs.

Day in the life: grad school

February 19, 2015 by

amyI’ve always found “day in the life” posts in the blogosphere fascinating, since they are a peek into someone else’s schedule, habits, hobbies. Here’s the previous Friday (pardon the delay) of my charmed biostatistics graduate student life:

7:01am – Alarm goes off. As an early bird, I am usually pretty awake by this time anyway. I clamber out of bed, go through the morning routine, eat a hearty bowl of oatmeal, and enter the tundra leave for school.

7:58am – At the bus stop. Shortly after I snap this photo the bus comes rolling in and I make a mad dash down the rest of the path. Nothing like a sprint in the morning to wake one up!

20150219_085008

The bus stop is the shelter straight ahead

8:15am  – It’s my stop. I get off the bus and walk the short distance to my office, which is in the basement of the School of Public Health II (SPH II), on the right. Unfortunately, the cool medieval building in front is Kinesiology, not part of SPH. I must be feeling anxious about a project due early next week, since I cram in some coding before my class at 8:40am instead of dilly-dallying on the internet as usual.

20150219_090440

SPH is divided into SPH I, the Tower, Crossroads (the archway area), and SPH II

8:40am – Environmental Health 540: Maternal and Child Nutrition. Today we have a guest speaker, a gestational diabetes counselor from the UM hospital. As a biostats student, I really relish any non-quantitative courses I get to take as a breather from all the math-y stuff. I’ve built my cognate around reproductive health, as I find the physiological and social adaptations of pregnancy incredible.

20150213_084628

Reppin’ it during class

10:30am  – Class gets out. Squeeze in some gym time. I’m usually an early-evening exerciser, but on Fridays I need to move early or else I go stir-crazy in my three-hour class in the afternoon. The Central Campus Recreation Building (CCRB) is only a few minutes’ walk away from SPH.

20150213_112509

Try taking a photo on a treadmill some time. It’s difficult!

In general, I enjoy running outdoors, but…

20150219_090055

Well hey, if they’ve paved a path everything is okay, right?

12:30pm – Lunch time! I normally bring lunch to school every day, but on this rare occasion I must visit the Glass House, our cafe situated conveniently within SPH I, for some midday fuel. It’s definitely a soup kind of day. I bring the food back with me to the office (plus ten minutes since I forgot a spoon and must make a return trip–sigh) and eat while chatting with an officemate.

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1:10pm – Biostatistics 880: Statistics With Missing Data. This is a PhD-level class and thus a little overwhelming, but I feel privileged to be able to take it with an expert in the field. I get a tad sentimental thinking about how this is my last semester of school, and feel some pressure to make the most of it so no senioritis for me.

3:48pm – Class ends. I descend back to my office and crank away at my project.

5:40pm – Time to go home!

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6:15pm – Arrive back at my apartment. Eat dinner. It’s the weekend–joy :)

Internship, Funding, Classes…Oh My!

January 30, 2015 by

aparna Hard to believe that almost an entire month has gone by since second semester started! It’s been a whirlwind of internship funding applications, internship conundrums in general and group projects for class galore. The Global Health Epid track has been super exciting thus far and I love the focus that my classes this semester have on preparing us for our field experiences this summer! Going abroad comes along with its own challenges – funding applications, budgets, housing and food solutions, and letters of recommendation are all any of us can think about right now as we scramble to prepare our proposals to secure the money to go on the adventures of our lives.

Fortunately, everyone here is super helpful and there have been lots of workshops to help guide us along, not to mention the amount of support we get from our professors…at least we’re prepared for everything that comes our way in a few months!

One of my favorite classes this semester has us studying the intersection between epidemiology and culture. In undergrad, I took a medical anthropology course, which I really, really loved, and I’m excited that I get to take a similar class again! Of course, data is the most common word in the language of epidemiology, but this class really puts a new spin on it and relates the projects back to the communities in which we will be immersing ourselves.
I will be going to India for my internship to work with an organization called iKure. International internships are usually secured in the first semester and the second semester is usually devoted to finding funding. I am excited to work with the rural population around Kolkata this summer to study trends in data already collected and to do some descriptive epidemiology to understand health trends in this particular population. Spending the rest of the semester preparing for this is going to be a lot of fun!

My other class this semester that is preparing me for “the real world,” is the Public Health 615 Course – part of PHAST’s Texas Spring Break trip! A group of nine of us are heading down to Brownsville, TX in early March to work with UT – PanAm professors on various projects. The class meets once a week and we spend our time diving into the work we will be doing in about a month! All of us will be writing in more detail about those adventures on the SPH Frontlines blog, so stay tuned…

It’s been a great month so far and can’t wait to see what else comes my way this semester!  Stay warm and, as always, feel free to reach out with any questions!


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