Every year during the first week of April, we celebrate National Public Health Week to draw attention to the many things local health departments — like the St. Charles County Department of Public Health — and others do to improve our nation’s health.
|WHAT PUBLIC HEALTH MEANS TO US
We asked a few members of our staff to explain why Public Health is the right career for them. If it appeals to you as well, we hope you’ll consider joining our team as a co-worker or an intern.
Jesse Hollenbeck, SCCDPH Intern, currently attending Lindenwood University
When I first started at Lindenwood University, I had never heard of the Public Health field. I was an undecided major in my sophomore year, and only knew that I was interested in something related to health sciences. One day, I met with my advisor, who had just helped with development of the Public Health program at Lindenwood. Everything that she told me about the field sparked my interest. She explained that public health focused on prevention for the health of the entire population, rather than just specifically on the individual. Also, that careers in public health were endless; there are public health professionals working in clinical, corporate, and community settings, with job opportunities in promotion, prevention, education, and the medical field. She explained that as people advance their public health knowledge, they find their specific niche. I changed my major to public health that day and haven’t regretted my decision once.
As I have taken the various public health courses, I have found specific fields that interest me. Epidemiology sparked my interest after I took the introduction course. During one class period, my class welcomed a guest speaker from the St. Charles County health department, who explained how she applied Epidemiology to real-world situations. Later, she became my preceptor for my internship at the Department of Public Health.
I was also drawn to the Global Health field of Public Health after reading the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” a true story about a doctor named Paul Farmer who opened a clinic to treat the locals in rural Haiti. Global Health emphasizes the need for sustainable health care practices worldwide, a great way for me to combine my love for travel with that of helping others. I was recently accepted into Saint Louis University for their Master of Public Health program, where I will emphasize in epidemiology and global health. I hope to use my education to address infectious disease issues in developing countries, and maybe one day work for the CDC or WHO.
Improving the overall health of communities and the health of people on a national and global scale is my main draw to public health. I have learned that it is extremely important for public health professionals to address long-term problems by preventing diseases and illnesses rather than waiting for people to get sick, and then treating them. The public health field is growing drastically, with continual opportunities for improved policies and services. I am excited for the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people and possibly improve their lives through improved health.
Nick Kohlberg, Response Planner – Emergency Preparedness, Master of Public Health
I was initially drawn to Public Health because of its focus on the prevention of illness and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. What I like most about my work in Public Health is that I am able to work with a variety of partners, both locally and throughout the Metropolitan Area. Whether it’s first-responders, faith-based organizations, non-profit agencies, healthcare providers and the many other types of organizations we work with each day, the opportunity to share resources and expertise is what allows us to solve complex problems and better serve this community.
Jennifer Hall, Public Health Nurse Educator, Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Registered Nurse
I enjoy working in the public health field because I can have a direct impact on keeping children and adults healthy by promoting healthy choices. To me, Public Health is keeping our community healthy through prevention and detection of potential issues before they become a large public concern.
Daniel Mattheiss, Health Educator, Bachelor of Health Science/Certified Health Education Specialist
I chose to specialize in Public Health so that I may have a positive impact on the health of my community. My favorite part of working in Public Health, and specifically health education, is when I can help people make positive behavioral changes that will improve their health. To me, this position is equal parts of providing services to those who cannot receive them elsewhere and of working with those in this community that can mitigate the effects of, and ideally prevent the onset of, health crises facing our community, our state, and the nation as a whole.
Samantha Bley, Environmental Health Vector Control Program Coordinator, Master of Public Health
I chose a career in Public Health because of my passion for protecting people from unhealthy environmental factors like unclean resources and vector-borne diseases. A long-term goal for me is to eventually work around the globe to help countries improve water sanitation and health. I enjoy working in the Public Health field because I can use what I’ve learned in the classroom and real-world experiences and apply them directly to the community where I grew up. To me, Public Health means protecting health by preventing hazards and promoting healthy habits — not just to help individuals but for the entire community.
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