Careers in Public Health Panel Recap

Careers in Public Health Panel, food and brain icons

Panelist Introductions

  • Daniel Morgan, BA: Zoning Administrator/Public Health Officer for Charlotte, recent graduate of UVM
  • Stephanie Busch, BS A-EMT: Injury Prevention Manager at State of VT Dept of Health working in emergency preparedness, injury prevention, and EMS
  • Jillian Leikauskas, MPH: Substance Abuse Program Evaluator at VT Dept of Health, alcohol and drug abuse program evaluator and grant manager
  • Jenney Samuelson, MS: Deputy Commissioner at Dept of VT Health, working with Medicaid, health reform, and the intersect between value-based payments and population health
  • Sally Kerschner, RN MSN: President of the Vermont Public Health Association, Vermont Department of Health nurse working in maternal and child health
  • Jan Carney, MD MPH: Associate Dean for Public Health, UVM College of Medicine, teaching public health and policy, previous health commissioner of Vermont

How did you come across and find your passion in the field of public health?

Daniel: Healthcare is a public right and a human right and I think that’s really what got me interested.

Stephanie: My undergraduate degree was in biology, chemistry, and anthropology. For me, those circles didn’t really fit my world model and public health is the Venn diagram for those components but also how our environment and our culture all impact our life and our health.

Jillian: I started out at UVM as an undergrad in medical laboratory science working with bacteria. When I graduated I became a microbiologist at the health department state lab and then I wanted to find out a little bit more about the people behind the bacteria and why they were sending in their specimens, so while I was working I started working on my MPH, I became an infectious disease epidemiologist at the department and then discovered a real love of data through that and the data that we use in infectious disease is really about solving outbreaks and doing surveillance and more descriptive data monitoring. I then moved on to doing program evaluation which is specifically evaluating a program and seeing if it is working or impacting the people that it is meant to serve – it’s a little bit more applied, which is why I like it.

Jenney: I went to undergraduate here at UVM and after a few years I joined the nutritional science program with the goal of becoming a dietician. As I graduated from here and began entering my dietetic internship program I went out to Illinois and there when I first started in graduate school. I started working in a community education program which was a public health program at the university and dually went into the nutrition program. I looked at the public health classes and started enrolling because they were the most fascinating and interesting between epidemiology and death education and kind of the comprehensive roles of public health.  From graduate school, I went into college student health and then ended up going into a wellness program in long-term care at a continuing care facility. While I was there, I was really working on changing the systems. I came back to VT and began working on how we can change the process of the socio-ecological model of how care is provided, how we do prevention in communities, and I really found my passion in doing that kind of system-level changes.

Sally: I’m a nurse and I went to the University of Delaware many years ago and I kind of liked working in the hospital but I didn’t know that I didn’t love it until I did my community health work in Wilmington. We did a full semester of public health nursing in lower-income areas in Wilmington, Delaware and once I started tramping the streets I realized that’s what I really wanted to do. I think we all in public health feel the direct connection to the public and to the community and that’s what we’re trying to do here – we are trying to serve and help those with economic, social, and health inequities. I then got my masters at UVM in community health nursing, which is no longer offered here.

Jan: I’m trained as a physician, so I got my MD and did my residency in internal medicine so I’m an internist – doctor for adults – and then I took a course, and I thought oh this is cool science and practice of how you prevent disease. All the things I was taking care of in individual patients – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, for example – there was a science of how you could prevent some of that and that was a great feeling for me.

What do you think is the most pressing public health issue faced in Vermont today?

  • Sally: Climate change
  • Jillian: Housing
  • Jenney: Socioeconomic inequity
  • Jan: Chronic conditions
  • Stephanie: I’m not gonna argue with equity and housing and all of that.
  • Daniel: Basic access, gun control, venereal disease at the college level

Important Organizations/Further Resources

  • American Public Health Association
  • Vermont Public Health Association (internship opportunities)
  • United Way of Northwest VT and Howard Mental Health (volunteer opportunities)
  • AmeriCorps Vista
  • Global health: NGOs, United Nations
  • CSTE: Council of State Territorial Epidemiologists (fellowship opportunity)
  • Internships – example: office of the chief medical examiner with Dr. Shapiro

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