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

Simply Grateful

It takes a village to raise a child. Nothing could ring truer for my life. I grew up with four aunts, two uncles, and 13 cousins all living within a five-mile radius from me, so the concept of Thanksgiving where people travel great distances to be with loved ones for one big feast is a bit of an antiquated practice for me, since that describes most of my weekends- with the exception of distance. Our house might as well have had a revolving door the way relatives stomped in and out on a daily basis. However, I’ll get my first taste of a traditional Thanksgiving meal here in the Villages with Kate and her grandparents with the infusion of tofu since Kate and I are both vegetarians.

There’s many things to be thankful for this year: my family (the one I was born with and the one I chose for myself) with their unconditional support, words of encouragement, and heavy presence in my life despite being a thousand miles away. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be in school again, having the chance to perfect my morning regimen I learned from the first grade: wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, put on my backpack, and run out the door in a frantic attempt to still catch my bus. I’m thankful for the chance to travel and study in places whose vastness and beauty continuously leave me breathless–and I get to do it with my best friend in tow. And after reaching the midway point at my internship at the Orange County Health Department and seeing some of the events around the world unfold, I’m also thankful for the healthcare available in the US.

A couple of windmills on a road trip to Indianapolis this past summer. Don Quixote would be astounded...

A couple of windmills on a road trip to Indianapolis this past summer. Don Quixote would be astounded…

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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