Saturday, November 22, 2008

Public Health and Me

So, I have officially accepted a position as the Public Health Nurse for my town, and my hours were approved by the town government just yesterday. While I've been filling in as the Interim Public Health Nurse for ten hours each week over the last several months, I will begin working thirty hours a week beginning on Monday.

After ten months of being a free agent, consultant, and general slacker, having a job to responsibly report to four days a week is indeed a wake-up call. While consulting and working per diem jobs has allowed me a great deal of flexibility and self-determination, the need for high-quality health insurance and a more steady income have also reared their heads. Thus, my decision is propelled by economic need as well as the realization that this will certainly be an interesting and growthful career move on many levels.

As a Public Health Nurse for a town of approximately 40,000 people, I will be responsible for emergency preparedness (including the management of the local Medical Reserve Corps), infectious disease surveillance and reporting, tuberculosis case management, a monthly immunization clinic, influenza clinics each fall and winter, fielding questions and calls from citizens and town employees, and other important responsibilities.

I am honestly slightly overwhelmed as I realize the steep learning curve involved in this undertaking, but I also realize that my desire to work for Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders, or a similar organization in the future will be even more likely with significant public health experience under my belt. While public health is not necessarily hands-on nursing, it is a crucial part of the healthcare infrastructure of the country, and many of my new skills will certainly be transferable to other countries and societies.

Stay tuned for developments as I dig in to my new position, and I surmise that issues of public health will become an even more intrinsic part of the regular conversation here on Digital Doorway.
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