“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” - Robin Sharma
Who inspires you?
I would have to say my director. She lives, eats and breathes public health. She inspires all of us to find a way to say yes when assistance is needed.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
Participating with partners in the community who also have a passion for public health. Seeing the dedication to helping others with no thought of personal gain. Watching the many events unfold that bring the community closer together. Watching as members of our clerical team goes on their break to buy food for a child (client) who is hungry. Covering the phones to help individuals who are reaching out for assistance.
How did you start working in public health?
I worked in finances for 30 years and wanted the last 10 years of my working career to make a real difference in people’s lives. I started at Taliaferro Mental Health Center and saw an opening at Comanche County Health Department for an accreditation coordinator. I researched the position and found it was a position that was interesting and challenging. Fortunately, I was selected after providing a presentation on the Community Health Improvement Plan.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?
I have been blessed to be involved in many different areas due to re-accreditation requirements. Re-accreditation keeps all activities on track ensuring we adhere to national standards. I have seen how vaccines, STI prevention, restaurant inspections, etc. are all so very important to the community. I, like many in the community, thought the health department (only) provided shots and birth control. It was an eye opening experience to see the many services, education and referrals provided.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
I am responsible for putting together the Community Health Assessment and the community health improvement plan. These documents highlight the main public health concerns in the community, and how we are working to alleviate them. As for co-workers, I am responsible for the strategic plan and the quality improvement plan. The strategic plan highlights the public health issues the agency is working on and the quality improvement plan is often based on public health procedures and processes. Providing quarterly data for the strategic plan shows the staff in quantitative data the difference their role is making to advance public health.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
With everyone being so busy, receiving data from individuals to keep all plans updated and working with staff on re-accreditation can be challenging. Not having a long public health background, it can be challenging to work with staff on re-accreditation to determine exactly how their activities fit into the Public Health Accreditation Board measures. My position also requires a great deal of computer time; therefore, it is easy to get into a silo.
If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?
It is a very rewarding career. You won’t get rich with money; however, you will with smiles, gratitude and the satisfaction of knowing you have helped a family with food, shots, birth control or a multitude of other preventative services.