Jennifer's Personal Notes

Working the system

Classes begin today.  This is my first semester in residence at the public health school which means in addition to the nursing courses I need to take to finish, I am taking a full course-load of public health.  I am also preparing for my thesis and my practicum.  So much to think about, but some of it is already under way.

I have done some searching and really like an opportunity to work with a childbirth advocacy group in Honduras over the summer of 2012 for my practicum.  I’ll give more details if it all works out. I’ll ask for connections if it doesn’t.

As for my thesis, I have found a group that is working to improve maternal health for rural women in Kenya.  They are seeking someone to complete work on training modules for rural health workers.  The project is very me, so of course I have submitted a resume.

And just because I want to see all sides of global maternal health, I boldly asked an alum in the global AIDS division of the CDC if there would be an opportunity to observe or meet with a member of the team in maternal/child health. What luck, it was an alum who is very interested in helping the new students make connections.  So I sent him my resume an have my fingers crossed that within the next few weeks I will be able to visit and see what improving maternal health within a broader campaign looks like.

Exciting stuff ahead this semester, but not only in the experience opportunities. This is the semester I am taking my lactation class, and a health policy and management class about improving access to care.  I’m excited about both.  I decided this summer to read a few of the books on the public health school reading list.  One of them is about the Bottom Billion countries and what economic policies help (or don’t help) to improve living conditions and why.  It is a different way for me to look and think about what a country needs.  While I am not nieve enough to believe everything the author says must be right, I am wise enough to understand that having grasp of the economic complexities of improving the living conditions in a country will only make me better prepared to do what I do.

And the final bit of excitement as I head out the door to class…I have permission to participate in the Sexual and Reproductive health issues class through the global health department.  I needed permission because part of the class is during one of my nursing classes–but both teachers are fine with the plan we have worked out.  The class will teach me not only what the different markers of health are, but how to find the data and analyze it.  In fact, I will be assigned a country, and my work throughout the semester will be finding the necessary data sets for that country, and doing the math myself.  I cannot wait!

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)