More Than What Meets the Eye

For some, the true nature of public health may be a bit ambiguous. The truth is, public health is big, it’s broad, it's everywhere. Public health is the murals you see while driving, public health is breastfeeding in a private room at your workplace, public health is the smoke free-oxygen you breathe in restaurants, public health is your child playing at recess. Even when you may not be aware of it, public health is all around you. As individuals, we all play a role in creating and contributing to the public health around us. However, in order to ensure that all members of our community have the ability and resources to be viable contributors to our overall public health, a momentous amount of work needs to take place behind the scenes.

You guessed it, my position in National Health Corps has everything to do with public health.  Serving with Allegheny County Health Department, Chronic Disease Prevention (CDP) Program as an Outreach Coordinator has been a wonderful educational experience thus far.  Going into this year, I wanted to make an impact on the communities around me but was not necessarily prepared for how little direct contact I would have with community members.  That being said, I have had to learn how to intrinsically motivate myself to ensure my productivity is at 100% every day.  The biggest learning curve has been encouraging myself when I am not receiving affirmations as one is more likely to receive directly from community members: thank you, that was helpful, or I learned so much! With a talented CDP team by my side, I have created a self-motivating routine for myself, to not only give my all to my host site, but to give my all to the public.  My position may be behind the scenes and I have learned how to propel myself this service year, but the impact that I have made is nonetheless visible to me in my everyday work.

As a part of CDP, I have received great opportunities to expand my own knowledge on the array of topics that make up public health. Some of these topics include physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, handwashing, medical homes, and much more. Specifically, my daily routine involves analyzing current CDP outreach materials, creating educational materials for Pittsburgh's Family Support Network, and educating about safe and healthy communities.  Through CDP’s campaigns, grants, and partners, I have been able to reach and impact the underserved populations within Pittsburgh to assist in breaking down the barriers of good health.

In the short time that I have spent a part of CDP, I have witnessed first hand the amount of work that is required to ensure a happier and healthier public.  Going forward, my hope is to expand my role in public health in order to continue providing communities the resources necessary to live healthier lives.

Still, the show must go on for the remainder of my time serving. Health is everywhere and affects everyone.  I intend to help those live life to the fullest through wellness.  Lights, camera, health!

P.S. I typically end my National Health Corps emails with puns.  I think I have overused my health-related puns because I don’t find them funny anymore. Do you think I am suffering from an IRONy deficiency?

This post was written by NPHC member Lauren Kargul.

Lauren serves at Allegheny County Health Department, Chronic Disease Prevention Program as an Outreach Coordinator.