Archive for March, 2017

Building Better Brains

Several of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), held this year March 4 – 7, in Kansas City, MO. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Francine Wood, BS

I jumped at the opportunity to attend the AMCHP conference. As a public health student, attending a public health focused conference was one of the milestones that I was encouraged to achieve prior to graduating. With this in mind, I was ecstatic to take advantage of all the sessions and networking opportunities available at the conference.

The first session, a skills building session, happened to be my favorite. The session, Building Better Brains: Using Partnership Early Brain Development to Impact Academic Success and Life-Long Health, focused on using the life course approach to improve the health outcomes during early childhood. The brain is not fully developed at birth and most of the structural development occurs between 3 – 5 years. Although, this is an important stage, brain development is an on-going process and development of different parts such as the frontal lobe can occur as late as age 25. Understanding these mechanisms as public health professionals is important but it is vital to explain the science of early brain development to stakeholders who impact the development of babies, children, teenagers and youth. One of the organizations that has been successful in driving positive change within these populations is the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS). The organization has engaged parents, legislators, government officials and other stakeholders to understand what promotes, derails and affects brain development using tools such as the Brain Architecture Game. GEEARS did not achieve its success in a silo, it partnered with the University of Georgia and had the support of the Georgia Department of Public Health. This shows the importance of leveraging partnerships both on the government and private level, and working towards a common goal.

Overall, the session was very insightful and it provided a practical application of the life course approach and other behavior change theories often discussed during my classes.

Francine Wood is a second-year MPH student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioural Sciences concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2017. Her interests include social and behaviour change communication, monitoring and evaluation, sexual and reproductive health, HIV and STIs.  She also loves travelling and immersing herself in new cultures, cooking and volunteering in her community.

 

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March 29, 2017 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Diversity, early childhood, and context

Several of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), held this year March 4 – 7, in Kansas City, MO. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Fiona Ritchey, BS

The AMCHP 2017 Conference in Kansas City was the first conference I’ve attended specifically geared towards Maternal and Child Health, and I loved it. Having attended APHA the previous school year, I was looking forward to seeing what a smaller, more focused conference would be like. The overall theme for the conference was Engagement with Intention: Inclusivity, Diversity, & Non-Traditional Partnerships. During my time at Tulane I’ve come to better understand some of the strengths and limitations of the public health field as it stands today, and I truly believe that maximizing our impact going forward requires engaging diverse, non-traditional partnerships with intention. There will never be enough money, buy-in, or brilliant ideas for us in public health to successfully go it alone, particularly for the big, structural changes that are needed to promote health equity and eliminate racial disparities. So it was inspiring and invigorating to be among researchers and professionals who’ve reached the same conclusions and are working on creative ways to tackle our toughest, most intransigent issues.

The first day of activities was technically the pre-conference, and included skills-building sessions in the morning and afternoon. It was so refreshing to have a smaller, interactive learning experience at a conference, rather than sitting in an enormous meeting hall and maybe getting to ask a single question. The first skills-building session I attended was called Building Better Brains, presented by several folks from Georgia representing different organizations working together to improve early childhood systems in the state. Early childhood development is my area of interest, so I was excited and interested to see the success of their collaboration in another southern state with relatively similar challenges. We played an interactive brain-building game with pipe cleaners, straws, and weights that successfully made childhood neurodevelopment very accessible to a lay audience. I got lots of contact information at the session and I’m excited to share the game with folks I work with in New Orleans.

One session I was disappointed in was about cultural competence as a tool to reduce health disparities. While there was a fun, easy game at the beginning to encourage participants to think about the level of diversity in their lives, we got barely any time at all to discuss the results and why we might have found what we did. The presentation afterwards defined a trajectory of cultural competence that failed to address cultural humility, which I consider to be a key factor for predominantly white public health professionals that often work in communities of color. There was also an extended part of the presentation about “dimensions of different cultures” that basically reduced each culture to a stereotype. Luckily that afternoon I attended another session called Place, Race, Poverty, and Young children which provided a much more nuanced and contextual look at the role of race in early childhood systems and health disparities. Overall I think I gained some valuable knowledge and skills from AMCHP that will serve me as I enter the MCH workforce this summer. I’m excited to hear what my fellow scholars thought!

Fiona Ritchey is a second-year MPH student with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health and a certificate in Epidemiology. Her background is in psychiatric research, with a focus on mood and anxiety disorders. Her professional interests include early childhood development, mental health, policy, and health equity. Fiona is a cooking fanatic, and spends her free time researching recipes and cooking for friends and family.

March 28, 2017 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Practicum Opportunity with National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, Dept. of Prevention, Crescent Care (NO/AIDS Task Force)

Practicum/internship opportunity for MPH or MPH/MSW students

Introduction: 

The CDC funded National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Program (NHBS) run by Crescent Care (NO/AIDS Task Force) in New Orleans is accepting applications for an internship with the NHBS research team. Interns will have the opportunity to participate in large-scale HIV behavioral research focusing in 2017 on men who have sex with men (MSM) in the New Orleans Metropolitan Statistical Area. 

About NHBS: 

NHBS is a CDC funded national surveillance system which takes place in 20 cities around the U.S. It was developed by the CDC in 2003, to address the ongoing national HIV epidemic. NHBS data are used to provide a behavioral context for trends seen in HIV surveillance data, give an indication of the impact of the epidemic, gauging the effects of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which focuses on decreasing HIV incidence, improving linkage to care, and reducing disparities. Findings are used at state and local levels to assess key characteristics and changing aspects of epidemic locally and to support the development of effective prevention programs that are tailored to the needs of the local population. Surveillance is conducted in rotating annual cycles in three different populations at high risk for HIV: men who have sex with men (MSM), injection drug users (IDUs), and heterosexuals at increased risk for HIV infection (HET). Before each NHBS cycle, formative research is conducted to learn more about the populations and collect data to help with sampling procedures. MSM are sampled using venue-based, time-space sampling methods. NHBS staff first identify venues frequented by MSM (e.g., bars, clubs, organizations, and street locations) and days and times when men frequent those venues. Venues (and specific day/time periods) for recruitment are chosen randomly each month. IDUs and heterosexuals are recruited using respondent-driven sampling, a type of chain referral sampling. NHBS staff members select a small number of initial participants, or “seeds,” who complete the survey and recruit their peers to participate. Recruitment and interviewing continue until the target sample size is reached (source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/systems/nhbs/). 

Project duties: 

Interns will join a research team during the formative and primary data collection stages of the MSM cycle. They will conduct: 

* Ethnographic research (Observations, brief street intercepts, key informant interviews, focus groups) 

* In-depth interviews (open ended, semi-structured, and hour long surveys) 

* HIV and HCV counseling, testing, and referrals (CTR) 

Requirements: 

* Able to work with people from various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds 

* Comfortable with conducting interviews that focus on drug use history, sexual behavior, and other HIV risk behaviors 

* Willing to undergo HIV and HCV counseling and testing training, using fingerstick testing 

* Available through completion of the cycle or substantial portion of primary data collection (expected date of completion: December 2017) 

Opportunities: 

This internship is an opportunity to support a national research project and learn skills in large-scale data collection in the field of public health. If not already CTR certified, interns will be trained in HIV testing and counseling. Upon completion of this practicum, interns will have gained experience in: field observations, key informant interviews, focus group interviews, primary data collection, large datasets, field based data collection, and uses of surveillance data to inform HIV programs and policies. Interns will also be given the opportunity to use the data collected for their own conference papers, publications, theses, etc. Previous interns have a track record of success. Since their time with NHBS, they have continued on to PhD programs, medical schools, CDC careers, and applied jobs in public health in New Orleans and around the world. 

To apply: Please send a cover letter and resume to narquis.barak@crescentcarehealth.org by April 1, 2017.

March 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

Tulane Society of Young Black Public Health Professionals to host Health Disparities, Diversity and Inclusion Lecturer and Book Signing

The Tulane Society of Young Black Public Health Professionals is pleased to host Drs. Patti Rose (U. of Miami) and Annie Daniel (LSU), author and contributing author respectively of the book Health Disparities, Diversity, and Inclusion in Diboll Auditorium from 2:30 to 4:30 on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

It should be a great talk, focused on identifying causes of health disparities and proposing solutions. It will be followed by a book signing by the author, hope to see you there!

March 14, 2017 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment


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