My journey towards a career in public health and creating this journal go hand in hand.
Exposure to Public Health and Medical Humanities Writing
I can trace my interest in public health back in my freshman year, where I first learned about the field. Despite this knowledge, I wanted to practice medicine. I began to get more serious, however, during my first exposure to a public health course. It was during this time that my internal paradigm began to shift and I figured out how to achieve my lofty millennial goals of “changing the world.”
The Sociology of Health and Medicine, taught by Dr. Clare Evans at the University of Oregon, created a solid foundation for my interests in the social determinants of health, and epidemiology. This publication, and my current status as an epidemiology graduate student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, stem from that course.
The other thread which leads to Intervene Upstream comes from another Pager Publication journal, In-Training. In February 2018, the journal published my reflection on taking an undergraduate anatomy course. As a pre-medical student at the time, the coursework and lab represented a rite of passage into the field of healthcare. When I shared my writing, I felt empowered. I felt my voice had an outlet.
From Supporting Patient Care to Assisting Clinical Research
During this period, I was a medical scribe and my mind yet again shifted towards systems of care. I began to see patterns of inequality related to class. I remember a patient who told the doctor of side effects from one medication. The doctor suggested a different drug, which they couldn’t afford to pay for out of pocket. What happens to people – our community and loved ones – when they can’t pay for optimal treatments? My analytical questioning brought me to leave medical scribing to join the research community.
I joined a clinical psychology lab with Dr. Feldstein-Ewing at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). As a research assistant, I was able to see the complexities of clinical trials, data collection, and neuroimaging – all with the hope of informing therapists and psychologists to provide evidence-based treatment. Here I learned the importance of translating basic sciences towards clinical practice and felt I found an academic home.
I was and am fascinated by neuroimaging and working with at-risk youth on addiction issues; however, my life was taken in a different direction as I sat in on public health seminars and met with practicing epidemiologist at OHSU. During this time, I was able to meet and work with Dr. Sarah Andrea, who was exploring the mental health effects of tipped service workers and how changes in minimum wage policy could improve health outcomes. Dr. Andrea provided mentorship in the field, and a strong voice of support for providing space at Oregon Health & Science University to discuss the journal. I was drawn yet again to public health – specifically social epidemiology – as a tool we can use to quantify risk, create policies, and reduce health inequality, especially among the most vulnerable
The Road Ahead and a Note of Gratitude
When I finally decided to attend graduate school for public health, I reached out to Pager Publications with an idea to start a public health-focused journal, where Dr. Ajay Major and Dr. Aleena Paul provided immense support.
I received incredible effort and heaps of support from our staff – the ‘we’ of Intevene Upstream – including managing editor Catherine Zaw, our reviewer-editors Jane Gill and Chanel Warzynski, our copy-editor Vaughn Edelson, and our social media team Kim Hazel and Sara Atlas. We have created a journal which aims to represent the graduate student voice of public health.
And, of course, no publication could be complete without thanking the writers, for without them we would have no publication at all.
Please enjoy the elbow grease and love put into our special, inaugural release, with a series of articles on “Why Public Health.” I’m pleased to introduce the peer-reviewed public health publication for graduate students, Intervene Upstream.