Finding the Right Path

December 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

By Daniel Heitner, BA

Having attended only one national conference previous to the 2014 APHA Annual Meeting, I knew I was about to be amazed, intrigued, and awed by this experience. I find myself quite comfortable in a room full of people who are able to discuss topics, especially those considered controversial, but all with the intention of making a better tomorrow. Previous to this year’s meeting I’d never found myself in a room with such diverse individuals (based on age, academic and professional background, geographic location, country of residence and/or origin, etc.). It was a complete immersion into diversity, however once I found myself there I realized despite our unique characteristics we all shared one thing, the desire and commitment to create a healthier world.

At the opening session, I was moved by Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Luschniak’s opening talk and his emphasis about acting based on the World Health Organization’s definition of health. I was equally impressed with Isabel Wilkerson’s opening keynote speech; admittedly I was unsure of how it was related to the conference, but then it connected, opening my mind to see things in a new perspective.

Additionally, I had attended many oral presentations on various topics, most sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Section. I was most intrigued by two particular Oral Health talks which had been addressing key issues with oral health and oral bacteria transfer between mothers (or primary caregivers) and infants; it was some truly cutting edge research. I’ve often believed that oral care should be considered a part of health insurance as a whole rather than a separate entity, and this discussion only further engrained that belief in my mind. Oral health is reflective of one’s overall quality of health so it is equally important that it be maintained and treated like any other element of one’s health. I was very intrigued by this work and cannot wait to see follow-up research presented at next year’s annual meeting.

APHA overall was an overwhelming experience, but in the most positive way it could be. I was able to network with individuals in the field and other students like myself, I was able to learn about the latest and greatest work in the field, and most importantly I was reassured that I have found myself on the right path.

Daniel Heitner is a first-year MPH student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. Daniel’s expected date of graduation is May 2016. He hopes to work on increasing access to healthcare by constructing comprehensive clinics that not only increase quality of health in a community, but also its level of education and economy.

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Lessons Learned APHA in NOLA

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