You know you’re a public health dork when… you leave a two-hour meeting at your internship with your head buzzing about the possibilities of health promotion programs in your community. For my social work field placement this academic year, I’m placed at the local health department, Washtenaw County Public Health. On my first day of orientation to SPH, I remember hearing someone say that if you’ve seen one local health department, you’ve seen ONE local health department – meaning that each local health department is so different from the next that there aren’t many generalizations that can be made about them. WCPH is fortunate to be able to do many health promotion programs that are in addition to their mandated public health duties as required by state or federal regulations.
Our division meeting included updates on a number of health promotion programs, from smoking cessation and healthy eating to biking to work and substance use prevention. It was reassuring to hear a lot of terms I’ve been learning in my graduate studies, and to see how health programs operate in my local community – instead of just reading about it from research articles. One staff member gave a report from a presentation at statewide conference she had recently attended in which a health communication campaign out of Jackson, Michigan was discussed. I had heard about this campaign before in my health communication course last fall – it was a final project option for some of the students in my class! It was nice to see it come to fruition and be lauded across the state. You can learn more about it on their website – Most Teens Don’t!
Another major topic of the meeting was a big grant we’ve been writing for the last couple weeks for the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). It’s been a fun process being part of this grant proposal. The MDCH has funded 16 community organizations and local health departments over the last year to do planning in their communities for addressing health disparities among various ethnic populations. Washtenaw County was funded to work with African-Americans and Latinos, and we just submitted our proposal for the next phase of the grant – implementation. Even if we don’t get funded, it was a great learning experience to be able to work on developing the programs for the Latino-focused part of the proposal, as well as the evaluation plan. I got to apply what I learned in HBHE 651 (Program Development) and what I’m learning right now in HBHE 622 (Program Evaluation), in addition to many of the theories I learned in HBHE 600 (Psychosocial Factors in Health-Related Behavior) and SW 502 (Organizational, Community and Societal Structures and Processes).