Posts filed under ‘Student posts’

Gaining a New Perspective

Several of our MPH students attended the 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference, held September 12-14, in Portland, Oregon. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Temitope Akintimehin, BS

CEMCH Scholars Temitope Akintimehin and Tylar Williams with Scholar Alum Rachel Powell and fellow CityMatch attendee Eilish Neely

After having such a great experience at the APHA conference last year, I was very torn about deciding on whether I wanted to go back to a conference I had previously attended or attend a new one this time. I wanted to take this opportunity to use this conference experience to get more insight into my career path and the options that are possible within the field of Public Health. Since CityMatCH is a significantly smaller conference, I was informed that it would provide a setting for deeper connections with more people. I was very open-minded about going and was pleasantly happy with my decision to go.

The sessions that immediately caught my interest were those addressing health disparities in minority populations, social determinants of health, and preconception care. I recently completed my summer practicum on a project focused on preconception care and its impacts on groups from different socioeconomic backgrounds in Suriname, so having the chance to connect what I had learned from that experience to what the speakers were saying was very inspiring for me. The panel speakers were able to go in depth about the programs that they implemented and how the data from them show how much racial inequalities have an impact on women’s and children’s health, especially in minority populations. These topics and concerns opened the floor to multiple discussions where other professionals from various areas of public health were able to give and take advice amongst their colleagues.

The professionals varied from department of health workers to program directors, and even though they may have been at different levels, it was clear to see that there were multiple similarities in the work they did within the field of public health. It was good to see how each position had its own part to play and in what capacity. After using this opportunity to talk with people and hearing their stories, I feel like I am able to get a better idea of where I can see myself working in public health and incorporating all of my interests.

 

Temitope Akintimehin is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2019. Her interests include sexual and reproductive health, preconception care health and racial disparities, global health, and community health. She is involved in the community and enjoys volunteering.

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October 16, 2018 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

CityMatCH 2018: Matching my MCH goals to career opportunities

Several of our MPH students attended the 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference, held September 12-14, in Portland, Oregon. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Kiley Mayfield, BSW

Slide from the presentation of Alyshia Macaysa, program manager of Baby Booster, during the “Collectively Building the Table: Lessons Learned from Engaging Multi-Sector Partners and Residents” session. The slide illustrates social determinants and the necessary actions to overcome them.

Prior to my CityMatCH arrival, I was a ball of nerves. I was anxious and nervous about what to expect, how to act, what to do, and even what to say. As a true over-thinker and over-analyzer, I knew the feelings would not dissipate until I arrived. I had to put my best foot forward because these were potential employers and coworkers that I was going to meet. If I needed to be perfect at any conference, CityMatCH was the one because it was about maternal and child health (MCH) in urban environments — the exact area of MCH that I want to work in. I would be surrounded by professionals who may currently, or in the past, do the same things that I aspire to do. So, to soothe my anxiousness I rehearsed lines to say and ways to react to different scenarios. Spoiler alert: when the curtains opened none of my rehearsed lines or actions were used, but I didn’t freeze. I used the things I practiced as references. My prepared script included my interests in public health, where I was from, why I’m interested in public health, school, CEMCH, etc. — basically everything I needed to make a great first impression.

When I arrived at CityMatCH, and especially after witnessing the Keynote Speaker — Dr. Galea — speak, I knew everything would go just fine. Dr. Galea set the tone as he made his speech on equity and the importance of health versus health care with a relaxed, personable, and humorous tone. Everyone that I came in contact held the same demeanor as he did — relaxed, personable, and sometimes humorous. The speakers covered heavy topics with a lightness that provoked my thought and piqued my interest. One session, in particular, that stood out immediately was the Collectively Building the Table: Lessons Learned from Engaging Multi-Sector Partners and Residents session. There were three speakers, two from Best Babies Zone and one from Baby Booster. Each speaker covered ways to include non-MCH sectors and engage communities to address social determinants and reach MCH goals. They provided tips on breaking down barriers and gaining trust to create sustainable programs. This session was important to me because I want to work with the people I serve in some capacity.

All in all, every session that I attended caused me to think about how the topics related to what I ultimately want to do, and how I could implement that information into my work. I left with a wealth of knowledge and a few new contacts in the MCH realm. CityMatCH matched my expectations, then quickly surpassed them.

Kiley Mayfield is a second-semester MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in August 2019. Her interests include Black maternal health in marginalized and oppressed communities, health equity, breastfeeding advocacy, postpartum care and community support, and mandated paid parental leave. She also loves singing, poetry, and laser tag.

October 15, 2018 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Tales from a City MatCH First-timer

Several of our MPH students attended the 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference, held September 12-14, in Portland, Oregon. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Tylar Williams, BS

The 2018 CityMatCH Leadership & MCH Epidemiology Conference had the theme of “Partnering with Purpose: Data, Programs, and Policies for Healthy Mothers, Children and Families”

This year I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference in Portland, Oregon. I had a wonderful time meeting and connecting with different leaders in MCH and learning more about what new things are happening in the field. Dr. Sandro Galea opened the conference with a wonderful talk challenging us to take a deeper look at the way we talk about health in this country and gave us five things that we should talk about when we talk about health. He said that first we need to stop using health and healthcare interchangeably because they have different meanings. We then need to 1) talk about what causes health, 2) pay attention to emerging pathology, 3) invest in prevention, 4) focus on underlying social conditions, and 5) address persistent health gaps. I enjoyed his speech and left feeling super pumped about what was to come over the next three days.

After all of the opening activities I attended a session on innovation and improvement of prenatal care. Generally, the literature supports group prenatal care for its effects on improving birth outcomes, so this session was aimed at sharing the success stories of this model in different locations. I learned about a program called Moms2B based in Ohio. The program aims to address racial disparities in prenatal care and uses a community-based model much like CenteringPregnancy. I love how this program also works to address different social determinants that play a role in birth outcomes. For example, they partner with their local food bank to address food insecurity and have mobile clinics that come to the sites monthly to aid with access to primary care.

On day two, I attended a presentation by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. I was introduced to this organization last year at the annual American Public Health Association meeting, so I was really excited to hear about what they accomplished over the last year. I also heard from the National Birth Equity Collaborative during this session. It’s always really inspiring to see women who look like me working in this field and really making a difference. I also loved their motto: listen to Black women, trust Black women, and invest in Black women. Later that evening I had the chance to meet with past CEMCH scholars and explore a little bit of Portland. I had a great time and Portland is definitely on my list of places to visit again.

For the last day I attended a session called Maternal Voices and it was probably my favorite session ofthe entire conference. All of the presenters spoke about how there needs to be a shift in our attitudes towards women and how it’s really important that we give them a voice and listen. We’re starting to hear more public stories now about how healthcare providers aren’t listening to women, especially women of color, when it comes to their healthcare. This can lead to outcomes that otherwise would have been prevented. It was awesome to hear these stories and I hope that as women continue to become more vocal about the care they recieve, we can start to change this behavior. Overall, City MatCH was a great time and I’m looking forward to next year’s conference! 🙂

Tylar Williams is a second-year MPH student concentrating in Maternal and Child Health and plans to graduate in May 2019. She received a bachelor’s degree in Health Education from Howard University in 2016. She is CHES certified. Her interests include nursing, midwifery, prenatal and postpartum care, and improving reproductive and sexual health education in the Black community. She loves cooking, spending time with her friends and family, and traveling.

October 12, 2018 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Seeing Public Health through a New Lens

One of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), held February 10-13, in Arlington, Virginia. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Emma Beall, BSPH

This Mardi Gras, I decided to trade in my beads for a trip to the AMCHP annual conference. The theme, Staying Focused: The Enduring Commitment of MCH to Families and Outcomes, featured several fascinating panel discussions, such as one emphasizing the importance of including fathers and men in MCH programs. Another focused on recent disasters across the U.S. – the recent wildfires, hurricanes, flooding – and rise of the opioid epidemic – as well as the threats these emergencies pose to public health.

The day before the conference officially started, I attended two skill-building sessions with other conference participants. The morning session, Transforming Health Centers into Adolescent- Centered Medical Homes, was one of my favorite parts of the conference. During this session, facilitators walked the group through specific ways health facilities can more effectively reach and serve adolescents, particularly through changes to clinic environments. Tips presented included both providing phone chargers in waiting rooms and posting confidentiality laws throughout the clinic so that teens know what they can disclose in confidence with providers – without fear of their parents finding out. Facilitators also noted the importance of extending clinic hours to allow for appointments later in the day and on the weekends in order to better reach teens. Other sessions focused on a range of topics, from preventing teen pregnancy in rural communities to improving maternal and child health using a collective impact model.

The conference ended with an inspiring keynote from Michael Lu, who previously served as the director of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Lu highlighted the importance of incorporating One Health into future MCH work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that this approach “recognizes that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment.” Given the recent emergence of Zika and the readily visible impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to severe storms, I hope that future initiatives will use this lens when aiming to address the health of mothers, children, and families.

Emma Beall is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2018. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Tulane University in December 2016. Her interests include preconception health, adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health, and clinic-based interventions. She enjoys yoga and exploring all that New Orleans has to offer

 

February 28, 2018 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

APHA 2017: A Sobering Reminder and Forward Momentum

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Grace Saul, BA

APHA 2017 was held at the Georgia World Congress Center

For me, the 2017 meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) showcased what I consider to be some of the public health field’s greatest strengths:  a firm grounding in the understanding that human health is organically tied to the environment, and an unwavering commitment to the use of scientific evidence for advancing health outcomes for all, even—and especially—through turbulent political times.  Less than six months after the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the APHA used its platform to gather the public health community behind a powerful theme: Climate Changes Health. Throughout my time at the conference, I was struck by how seamlessly professionals from a vast array of sub-disciplines were able to relate their work to climate change and to demonstrate the need for bold and immediate action to combat this critical threat to population health.

A memorable session I attended at APHA addressed the alarming and disproportionate threat that climate change poses to the health of women and girls.  Early evidence of climate change’s impact on female populations in the US suggests that increased exposures to air pollution, extreme heat, droughts, stagnant waters, and particulate matter from wildfires are associated with increased incidence of asthma, coccidioidomycosis, chronic stress, preterm birth, low birthweight, stillbirth, Zika infection, birth defects, infant death, GI infection, lung cancer, other respiratory problems, heart disease, and hypertension.  Furthermore, these impacts are compounded by the potential indirect effects of climate change, such as increased economic vulnerability and/or displacement and increased vulnerability to gendered violence, sex trafficking, and other forms of exploitation.  One presenter was a former obstetrician-gynecologist who left his practice after 26 years to focus full-time on climate change advocacy.  He described climate change as a “medical emergency” and explained that he focused his research solely on evidence within the US in an attempt to drive home the point that climate change must be taken seriously, here and now.

Throughout my time at APHA, a sobering reminder pronounced in the opening session echoed in my mind:  We are the first generation that will see the devastating impacts of climate change, and the last that will be able to do anything about it.  It was illuminating to see how many issues are fundamentally tied to climate change and motivating to witness the American public health community collectively commit to facing this immense threat head-on.  I hope that as we return to our respective work on the issues we care most about individually, that we keep this big-picture message in mind and do everything in our collective power to forcefully push for climate action now, before it is too late.

Grace Saul is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University and has previously worked in research, monitoring & evaluation, and non-profit program development in Canada, the US, and Senegal.  Her interests include women’s health, sexual and reproductive health and justice, immigrant and refugee health, social norms theory, and health equity.  She loves mountains, dogs, cities, maps, languages, and the arts.

December 1, 2017 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Do it because you love it

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Raven Cedeno, BS

Kenya Smith, Grace Saul, Shokufeh Ramirez, and Raven Cedeno at the APHA Tulane meetup

In preparation for APHA, I decided to focus my energies on two programs: Maternal and Child Health and Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health.  Although separate topics, the two go hand and hand requiring a life course perspective to achieve optimal health.  My background in food and nutrition sparked my interest in breastfeeding and ultimately women’s health as the base for infinite possibilities.  I believe there will be direct benefits to the field of maternal and child health through the framing of successful contraceptive and sexual health programs.

One of the most memorable sessions I attended was conducted by Diana Cassar.  She is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) interested in the influence of adolescent and pre-pregnancy weight and milk supply.  The findings showed how important body image and obesity is to initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.  Women that recalled being overweight or obese during adolescence were more likely to begin supplementing breastmilk with formula during the first five days of breastfeeding because of perceived low milk supply.  Diana reinforced the importance of the life course perspective and the need for healthy women before healthy pregnancies.

As a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) myself, moving forward I hope to expand this research to include women of color and continue to improve breastfeeding rates across the country.  Attending APHA reassured me that I am on the right path.  Progress seems slow at times but the amount of time and effort each researcher and person in attendance at APHA is putting into their craft outweighs the possibility of the impossible.  I look forward to returning to APHA in the future to see the work of my peers and other leaders in public health continuing to fight for the well-being and acknowledgement of all people.

Raven Cedeno is a first year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  Prior to attending Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at New York University.  Her research interest includes women of child bearing age and family planning techniques.

November 30, 2017 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

No reason to be nervous

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Kenya Smith, BS

CEMCH Scholars – Temi Akintemehin, Raven Cedeno, Kenya Smith, Bejan Foretia, Tylar Wiliiams, Alumna Courtney Drayton, and Joia Crear-Perry of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance

In the days leading up to APHA, I had a mix of emotions. I was excited to travel to Atlanta and attend the vast variety of seminars.  But at the same time, I was nervous. I was nervous that my unpolished networking skills would leave me without any connections and that would leave more unsure of what I wanted to do in my future career.  I shouldn’t have worried. I met a lot of interesting people who worked in Maternal Child Health.  One, introduced to me at the Tulane APHA meetup, was someone who works in sexual health for women of color, which intersects with my career interest of reproductive health.  Currently, she is working on social media campaigns to raise awareness for gender-equality policy issues. I was so happy that I was set up on this “blind date,” because she offered me practicum work if I wanted to travel to New York.

Another awesome experience I had at APHA was the oral presentation called Black Mamas Matter: Maternal deaths a human rights crisis. This presentation stressed the importance of reproductive justice, which is the human right to safe and respectful maternal health care.  This presentation was given by founding members of the Black Mama’s Matter Alliance (BBMA) whose main goal is to “envision a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.”   This was by far my favorite presentation as it indicated the importance of black mothers and to raise awareness of the lack of advocacy there is for them. I think it is extremely important that BBMA exists, because black mothers have the highest mortality rate and are often an afterthought once their child is born.  Going to this presentation absolutely made me feel like I was in the right place and reaffirmed my passion for reproductive health.  By the end of my trip I realized, that I had no reason to be nervous.  Attending APHA was one of my most memorable and impactful experiences.

 

Kenya Smith is a first year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane.  She received a bachelor degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her interests include reproductive health for women of color, maternal and infant health and breastfeeding advocacy.

November 29, 2017 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

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