APHA: Finding Small, Thoughtful Groups of People at the Largest Gathering of Public Health Professionals

December 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

By Lauren Futrell Dunaway, MPH, RD, LDN

I’ve been to APHA many times and have participated in the capacity of an exhibitor, poster presenter, oral presenter, and Tulane student, staff, and alumna. I do enjoy and get a lot out of the opening session, expo, and larger oral presentations; however over time I’ve found that the most meaningful and productive experiences at APHA come from smaller, thoughtful interactions.

Poster-sessions are always one of the things that I look forward to and that I tell students and other first-time attendees to take advantage of. It’s an opportunity to have one-on-one, non-threatening conversations with researchers in your field of interest. The presenter has time to give you a more candid context to their research and I’ve found this is where I get the best information on ideas for similar projects, measures and methods to use in my research, and often exchange the most business cards in this setting. This year was no exception and I had the change to connect with a team of researchers I knew from University of North Carolina, get some suggestions for the qualitative piece of my dissertation research, and learn about a new social support scale that is very relevant to my work.

 

The session I presented in this year also afforded me smaller, thoughtful interactions. This year I presented in a round-table session on emerging topics in breastfeeding. Although I didn’t know what to expect from the format of this session, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Presenting my project in an informal setting, I was able to give context to our work and projects, and have engaged conversations with the attendees who sat at my table. I highly recommend this presentation format and suggest that more sessions be structured like this.

 

I was reminded of my favorite quotes at the opening session and I think it sums up not only the experiences I’ve mentioned at APHA, but also my view-point on much of my work in Public Health:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Lauren Futrell Dunaway is a PhD student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, as well as a full-time staff at the Mary Amelia Women’s Center at Tulane. Her work and research focuses on social determinants of early life course nutrition, childhood obesity, nutrition during pregnancy, and neighborhood and structural level determinants of women and children’s health.

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Feeding my passion Networking at APHA

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