My Practicum In Review…

Since the last time I blogged, my practicum has come to an end, I’ve departed Orlando, and am currently in Chicago amidst the holidays. I greatly enjoyed my times at the Orange County Health Department and relished all the opportunities and professional exposure I had to the broad field of public health. Having been to Disney World a couple of times when I was younger, Orlando always seemed like one cohesive, amusement park. However this internship, if nothing else, opened my eyes to the darker, less flattering and unmarketable sides of the city; Orlando was much more than simply the haven of Mickey and Minnie.

In the latter half of my practicum, I was able to shadow environmental specialists who inspected public restaurants and pools, help out a public health nurse practitioner in conducting hepatitis prevention programs at a methadone clinic, work with the emergency operations department in creating locations of treatment dispensing in the case of an emergency biological threat, and learned much about health disparities in Florida from the community health department. It’s been a rewarding experience, putting public health into action and from these collective experiences, I’ve had time to reach many conclusions on what I’ve learned. Continue reading

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Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of my practicum at the Orange County Health Department in Orlando, FL. Among my list of “first days,” it ranks pretty high. Although not much was planned for me, my conversation with one of the public health nurses in the epidemiology department, Karen, helped bring a little perspective into what life is like for a public  health worker post-graduate school. Prior to working for the county health department, she had worked as an ER nurse at a hospital in New York City. Quite a large leap. When I asked her which environment she thought to be more stimulating, thought-provoking, and interesting, she surprisingly chose her current job within the epidemiology department. I was pretty flabbergasted, expecting her answer, in her subtle Jamaican inflection, to be “ER, hands down!” As I entered the department, all I saw was a precinct with a standard fare of workplace knicknacks–an unrelenting murmur of copiers, fax machines, and shredders, cluttered desks brimming with beige manila folders to give people a false appearance of preoccupation when really it’s just intense disorganization, and of course, an exuberant amount of anti-bacterial wipes to mop anything and everything under the sun, something I would expect of a department preoccupied with infectious disease. I silently thought to myself she thinks this is more exciting than the hustle and bustle of an ER within the largest metropolitan city in the country? Spilled coffee had to be the extent of “commotion” within this office. Continue reading

School’s OUT!

I just finished my first term, ending with a presentation in biostatistics on drug arrest rates and economic indicators and participating in a live radio session on the harmful effects of the HIV stigma that is prevalent in many Caribbean regions. It was a fast-paced term jam-packed with oodles of information along with a fair share of bumps and obstacles. Nevertheless, I’ve officially completed one-third of my degree (earning the M in MPH). Sometimes, though, I have to ask myself, would some of the stuff that goes on here fly if this school were not in Grenada, but perhaps, in the US? Probably not. However, I wouldn’t give up my experiences (both in and out of school) for anything.

Most visitors of foreign countries often eagerly anticipate seeing the sights and attractions of a new region. However, I’ve always found myself more  enthused to learning how to live like the locals, having a lust for the mundane and minutiae of everyday life, and a yearning to engross myself in the quotidian patterns of the native people. It’s one of the reasons why I’m more and more excited to be moving off campus in an area called Lance Aux Epines (recognize the French influence?). Although, the area is heavily concentrated with students and holds hostage many amenities that I’m sure are lacking in true, native residential areas, I’m happy to be far-removed from the bubble that a school campus creates. Continue reading

Of Hope and Hogwartz

I’ve been meaning to write this particular post for a while now. In the midst of getting ready for Grenada, and moving out of Madison, I haven’t fully had time to reflect on all that I’ve learned while I was out visiting with my girlfriend’s grandparents. They live in a massive retirement community spanning three counties  in Florida called The Villages intact with pools, movie theaters, communal squares, shops, golf courses and all of these places are accessible by golf carts…I’m probably not the only 23-year-old drooling over this palatial retirement resort.

We visited the Harry Potter portion at Universal Studios in Orlando. Hogsmeade is pictured above.

Over the week, I relished in the honor of getting to know my girlfriend’s grandmother, Peggy, very well. Her life in recent years has emerged as an overlapping case report of medical episodes. She suffers from peripheral neuropathy where she gradually continues to lose sensation in the tips of her fingers and toes. She also simultaneously suffers from diabetes type 2. After gaining sores in her feet from what would be only the second pedicure of her life, her life led into a downhill spiral full of doctor’s visits and treatments. As her sore was getting better on her right leg, doctors discovered a blood clot in that very leg. It might not have been so bad with diabetes alone but that compounded with 40 years of smoking history only served to exacerbate the situation. She had a catheter placed within her that delivered chemicals to diminish her clot. While the clot successfully lessened, severe immobility due to the placement of the catheter worsened her sores. It was only through rehab that she regained movement of her foot. Continue reading

Life is Good…Except When It’s Not

There’s bad luck and then there’s REALLY bad luck…losing your wallet is not a pleasant experience but when you have just about of every form of state-issued identification in it and a flight to catch in five hours, it’s inconvenient to say the LEAST.

It was about midnight last Friday that I realized “crap! I can’t find my wallet!” I ride the bus everyday and remember having taken out my wallet to get my bus pass but then not remembering having it after that. So my only option was to get my only form of viable identification, my passport. Only problem is is that it’s at my parents’ home in Chicago, about a 2 hour ride away from where I live in Madison, WI. Nothing like a road trip when you’re already tired from working all day just to hop in the car when all you want to do is SLEEP. I called up my dad frantic that my week-long vacation in the sunshine state was to be postponed due to my incredibly moronic safeguarding skills. Luckily, I was bred by 2 compassionate people that not only found my passport for me but also got out on the road at midnight to meet me halfway so that they could ensure I got a decent vacation before scientific boot camp (aka school) began. Continue reading