Posts tagged ‘conference report’

Shifting from “not my favorite conference” to “I will definitely come back next year!”

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 Alejandra Leyton, MPH

Presenter Alejandra Leyton, Shokufeh Ramirez, and moderator Sofia Curdumi Pendley

As a first-time participant at APHA, I decided to seek advice on how to seize this opportunity. While a diversity of messages was received, “not my favorite conference” was the one that struck me the most. The overwhelming number of exhibits, and oral and poster presentations was the main reason some colleagues couldn’t enjoy the number one conference of Public Health professionals in the U.S. This sounded like a challenge, but always having a bottle of water, a working app, comfortable shoes, and the desire to connect with others who share my same interests has allowed me to rate APHA as “I will definitely come back next year!”

The interactive format of the Greg Alexander Speed Networking breakfast was perfect to learn about the research of 30+ maternal and child experts in less than 60 minutes. Even when it seemed that the 1.5 minutes per introduction was not enough time to get to know someone’s work, it allowed me to connect with an expert in the methods I have been trying (but failing) to learn for the past year; as well as to find a dataset that could be useful for my dissertation. With similar experiences during the oral presentations, the last night at APHA I found myself having dinner with two strong, smart, and motivated PhD students from University of Maryland. The fact that we met at APHA for the first time did not stop us from talking about ways on how we could write papers together, and by doing so, bring our institutions together.

Finally, while oral presentations presented the perfect opportunity to admire, critically assess and excitedly learn from top notch researchers, I would like to share my favorite experience. During an International Health session, we learned that women in rural Guatemala reject Pap smears when pregnant, fearing that the baby could get a disease from the sample collection. Therefore, providers do not even offer the service to pregnant women anymore. This opened the floor for waves of questions, comments and suggestions: What is the role of health providers as educators? When will we shift from pap smears to HPV tests for women in remote locations? Why are some leaders only aiming for one pap smear in a woman’s lifetime? Not only was the discussion exciting and energizing, but it also reminded me that although we have endless problems affecting people’s and communities’ wellbeing, there are also endless possibilities to help them through policy, supply side interventions, and behavior change approaches.

Alejandra Leyton is a third-year PhD student in the department of Global Community Health and Behavioral sciences. With a background in Economics, her research interests include the triangulation of Qualitative and Quantitative Methods, women’s health, behavior change, and health inequalities among vulnerable populations. 

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November 17, 2017 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Networking for Social Justice

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Jordan Stephens-Moseley, BA

Kathy Morris of Crescent City PIC Healthy Start, Jordan Stephens-Moseley, Denise Evans of Spectrum Health, and Kiara Cruz

Conferences are both intimidating and energizing in my opinion. There is an expectation to network with people who you wish to seek help to further your professional career, but this is also the same reason conferences can be energizing. What you don’t expect from a conference is to finally level the field between students, researchers, doctors, and health professional of all levels. CityMatCH allowed for me to no longer feel intimidated to ask questions and have thought-provoking conversations that not only challenged others to think differently about the work they do in Maternal and Child health but also challenged me.

The opening and closing sessions at CityMatCH really allowed me to think about how I want to be viewed as a public health professional. The professionals who I was there to learn from seemed to be growing as much as I was, so when I listened to presentations on research and program interventions, I could contribute to the conversation as well. I could talk about the opening and closing sessions which reinvigorated my commitment to naming racism and calling out persons on their implicit bias, but meeting the people who served on the panels of these session is what captivated my attention. Within their relatable personal stories and public health experiences, I saw where I was on the right track and how I could push myself further. The goal was not only to walk away with new relationships and possible career ideas, but to really examine what I want to achieve in Maternal and Child health and what truly inspires me to do this work.

Jordan Stephens-Moseley, Kiara Cruz, Shokufeh Ramirez, Shanice Roache

Imagine walking into a hotel resort where the extravagance of the resort is shown through the glass ceiling, an indoor water show, and the indoor boat ride. Upon arrival, there is no way I would have thought I would be taking my own boat ride to find my purpose as a public health professional in Maternal and Child health.

 

Jordan Stephens-Moseley is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include women’s health, sexual health, reproductive rights & justice, and the integration of race justice in clinical health & public health initiatives.  She also loves dancing, cooking, music, reading, photography, and watching film & TV.

 

October 31, 2017 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Foundations of health

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

by Kara Hoffman, BS

Coming in to the CityMatCH conference this year, I was not sure exactly what to expect. However, within moments of the opening plenary session beginning I knew that I was going to have a life-changing experience in Nashville. The conference as a whole placed an emphasis on the role of public health professionals in changing the current national dialogue around racism, both on the systemic and individual levels. The multitude of ways in which racism in America affects health outcomes is truly astounding – and I know as a future healthcare provider and public health professional that I need to take a stand for my patients and for the health of the entire nation.

One of the first sessions I went to was about housing inequities. Several panelists presented their work, all coming from different parts of the country yet all showing the same results: the color of a person’s skin negatively affects their ability to get fair, good quality, affordable housing regardless of their socioeconomic standing. One of the presenters, who works in the affordable housing sector in Cincinnati, said, “The home is the foundation of health. If we want to really improve the health of Americans in this current moment, we need to address the housing issues at play today. That means looking at everything from why the housing markets are failing in some of our cities, to realizing that people will give up almost anything – even food – before they will give up their shelter. Without a safe home, no woman or child will be in good health. Period.”

This really struck a cord with me because I had worked throughout college with some homeless services in the Washington, D.C. area and had never once thought about the fact that just a home is not good enough. People need safe homes that are lead and mold and parasite free in order to be truly healthy, both mentally and physically. As I embark on the next steps of my career journey, I will always keep at the forefront of my practice as a public health nurse that it is critical for people to be living in safe homes, and working to address this issue in my interactions with them in any way that I can. Coalitions need to be formed and strengthened between the public health and housing sectors in order to connect people to the resources they need to find affordable, safe housing for their families, and I hope to contribute to this movement throughout the rest of my life.

Kara Hoffman received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science from The George Washington University in 2013. She is currently a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health, and she plans to graduate in December 2017. She will be attending nursing school in January to become a public health nurse. Her interests include improving access to health care services, child and adolescent health, and holistic family health. She also enjoys doing yoga, going hiking, and spending time outside with her dog!

 

October 30, 2017 at 8:33 am Leave a comment

CityMatCH Was My Match

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Shanice Roach, BSPH

Shanice Roache at CityMatCH

Day 1 started with the first open plenary: Advancing Equity and Human Rights through Reproductive Justice, which was a wonderful opening, to a wonderful conference. The panelists spoke on everything from the criminalization of poverty to the environmental threats. A quote that one of the panelists stated that stayed with Shanice through the whole conference, paraphrasing Audre Lorde, was “we cannot have single issue movements, because we do not live single issue lives.” No matter what Shanice does in life this quote will continue to stay with her. The conference ended with the third plenary: Challenges in Achieving Health Equity: Addressing Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat. This plenary explained that implicit bias is something that our brain does automatically even if it does not match what we have explicitly stated. The panelists even discussed the importance of showing different images and not just associating bad habits with African Americans.

Whether it was the cool Nashville air or the fact that everyone at the conference was lost together (in the huge hotel/convention center) at one point or another, this had to be one of the most diverse and inclusive conferences she has ever attended. As a second year Shanice always knew that she would enter the “real world” soon, but it did not sink in until she experienced CityMatCH. Individuals at this conference did not treat her as a student or someone below them, they made her feel like a colleague, as if she was in the field as long as they were. They were all in Nashville together to fight for something they were all passionate about and it was at that moment that she had a calming feeling. She was ready for the MCH world, but was the MCH world ready for her?

Shanice Roache is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Global Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include preterm births in African American women, breastfeeding, perinatal/infant health and reproductive justice. She is learning to love working out and enjoys cooking.

October 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

Intersectionality, partnership, and networking

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

by Kiara Cruz, BSPH

“White Supremacy is the water that we all swim in.”– Corrine Sanchez, PhD,
Tewa Women United

Kiara Cruz at CityMatCH

There is no one or nothing that could have prepared me for the experience I would have at the 2017 CityMatCH Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. As a public health student interested in Maternal and Child Health I was not prepared for the self-reflection, inspiring catharsis, and passion refill I experienced.

The three main points I want to highlight in which I will go more in depth are the following:

  • Reproductive Justice includes an intersectionality and human rights framework.
  • Community Partnership is essential for effective program and interventions
  • Networking is key to building professional and career relationships

The opening plenary: Advancing Equity and Human Rights through Reproductive Justice was the perfect opening for this conference. This session had reproductive justice leaders including Monica Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong; Corrine Sanchez, Executive Director of Tewa Women United; and Laura Jimenez, Executive Director of Latina for Reproductive Justice. All women of color from different backgrounds. This opening was very interesting to me because I never thought of reproductive justice through the lens of intersectionality. The systems of oppression that are in place like racism, incarceration, immigration laws, the criminalization of poverty and white supremacy are all part of the waters we swim in. The goal is to research and understand how these systems play and how they infiltrate the various areas of our life, and the populations we serve as public health professionals. Understanding that these systems may not be as visible and may need some digging in order to see any limitations in place. There cannot be limitations to have full decision making power when it comes to our health, our choices, and our rights. Overall, it is our duty to disrupt the systems of oppression that fill the water in which we swim.

I attended various sections and workshops on Community Engagement, an area of focus I hope to work in. The main takeaway I received was that communities can take care of themselves. We can engage communities by building community leadership within the community. Some ways include strengthening the community’s economy by providing trainings and job opportunities in the community for residents, having an asset-based approach, and valuing the communities’ expertise. Communities know what works best, what doesn’t, and the rhythm to which the community beats its drums. Letting go of the old ways public health approaches community engagement and trusting the process of collective impact. The most effective impact is through community driven programs.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb

Hearing and speaking with powerful, public health professionals, women of color really inspired me and reminded me why I decided to embark in this field. It was truly amazing to have meaningful interactions with people that I aspire to be. For example, I met with various people from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (one of the places I hope to work), Healthy Start Brooklyn. Having a network of women or individuals that can provide guidance, advice, and support as you maneuver through career and life obstacles is important. This conference granted me the opportunity to gain new mentors from which I hope to learn. I hope the public health field is ready because I am prepping for my mark.

Kiara Cruz is a second year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane.  She received a bachelor degree in Public Health from the University of Rochester and continues her passion for working in public health by interning at the Covenant House. Her interests include prenatal and postpartum care, community health, maternal and infant health, and monitoring and evaluation of MCH interventions.

 

 

October 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Renewed by coaching

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 Thea Lange, BA

Although attending the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference helped me develop new skills and knowledge to bring back to New Orleans, the highlight of my experience was an impromptu coaching session.

I have always appreciated the value of coaching and mentoring programs but, prior to this experience, I have never attended a conference that offers coaching sessions to its attendees. When I learned that coaching was available at AMCHP, I immediately signed up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one excited about the opportunity. I was put on a waitlist and assumed I would have to wait until next year for my coaching session.

Luckily, on Monday afternoon I received an email telling me that a slot had opened up!  Too busy with skills-building sessions to prepare for my coaching appointment (but unwilling to pass on the opportunity), I walked in underprepared. To my surprise, that didn’t matter. In fact, my session was more fruitful because I didn’t have time to overthink.

During the session, my coach asked me a series of questions about my professional and personal aspirations. Through mirroring my tone and body language, she helped me feel confident about my plans for the next few years. Speaking with her gave me a renewed sense of purpose and passion for the work I am doing. I left the coaching session and AMCHP excited to get back to New Orleans and get to work.

 

Thea Lange is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She received a bachelor degree in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College and continues to integrate her undergraduate background into her public health work. Her interests include early childhood education, criminal justice reform, and trauma-informed care.

April 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

Health Equity in Maternal and Child Health

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 Alexis Robles, BA

The 2017 AMCHP Conference in Kansas City was the first conference I attended as a graduate student at Tulane University. I was made aware of this conference through my internship in health equity with the Louisiana Office of Public Health – Bureau of Family Health. The theme of the AMCHP Conference was Engagement with Intention: Inclusivity, Diversity, & Non-Traditional Partnerships. This theme fit perfectly with my work as the BFH Health Equity Intern and I submitted a proposal to present on undoing implicit bias, which was accepted as a poster presentation. The theme of the overall conference was incredibly important to me and inspiring. Public Health professionals from across the country gathered to discuss and share information on diversity, equity, and inclusivity in Maternal and Child Health.

I was exceptionally lucky to be able to participate in the Radical Justice 101: Building the Capacity of MCH to Advance Racial Equity: Putting Concepts into Action daylong session. This session struck me with its participant diversity as it included public health professionals from all different backgrounds, from pediatricians, Title V coordinators, and epidemiologists, to doulas, students, and community health workers. From these different professional backgrounds, we all came together to focus on individual and organizational skill building as it relates to health equity. It was inspiring to see the collaboration across states, professions, gender, races, and languages in the room as we discussed the heavy but necessary topic of racial justice, racial equity, and health equity. Overall, I left this session inspired to join the MCH public health community and with much needed skills on talking about race constructively and authentically engaging both community and partners on social justice issues.

This session combined with the overall theme and accompanying sessions at this conference left me inspired and hopeful for the future of diversity and equity in MCH. I have a renewed passion and sense of purpose to continue this work in my personal and professional life. This conference was an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow while seeing firsthand the quality of work being produced across the nation.

Alexis Robles is a third-year MPH student with a concentration in Community Health Sciences and a certificate in Program Management, with an interest in Maternal and Child Health.  She plans to graduate in May 2017. Her professional background is in community health, particularly with vulnerable and sensitive populations and health policy. Her research interests include health equity, health disparities, racial equity, and social justice. Alexis loves watching horror and sci-fi films and collecting indie bath and body products. She spends her free time with her rescue dog visiting as many parks as possible.

April 4, 2017 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

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