In celebration of Women’s History Month, meet some of the amazing women working hard to ensure the health and welfare of our community.
How long have you been in this field?
I have worked at the health department for 3 years mainly in the immunization/communicable diseases program. I mainly work with the immunizations part of this program, but also help out with investigations for communicable diseases (pertussis, chlamydia, gastrointestinal diseases, etc). For immunizations, I spend a lot of my time educating patients on both routine immunizations and those needed for travel. I also communicate regularly with nurses from other clinics about questions they have on immunizations schedules and immunizations for special populations (pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, children who need to catch up).
Why does your work matter?
Anyone can give a shot. I believe my work matters because I take the time to share information, dispel myths, and explain scientific concepts. This is both what I like about my job and what makes me dread my work. It is challenging to openly discuss vaccines when there is a social controversy around them; I dread the possibility of a patient’s hostility and the possibility of conflict. However, I still ask questions and challenge patients’ hesitation, even if it means I get sweaty and flushed, because vaccinations do save lives (remember polio? I don’t!)
What do you think is the biggest public health challenge in the next 20/50/100 years?
I think our biggest challenge in the future is combating misinformation. Every day, in a lot of aspect of our lives, we hear about people sharing information that is completely made-up. We don’t take the time to cross-check what we read.
When did you know you wanted to work in public health?
I worked at a different county health department in Colorado as an aide for children with developmental delays. I saw the public health nurses at work as home visitors and case managers. This was the moment I decided to go into nursing school to become a public health nurse.