Future Public Health Leaders Showcase Projects at Poster Exhibit

A select group of graduate students at the Miller School of Medicine recently had the opportunity to highlight their work tackling some of the world’s most pressing and complex public health problems.

The 46 students took part in the Department of Public Health Sciences’ 2015 Annual Public Health Graduate Student showcase and reception February 12 at the Clinical Research Building. It was the third year for the exhibit, which provides a stage for the students to display posters that represent highlights from their field experiences and capstone projects.

Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Dean for Public Health, said she never fails to be impressed by the commitment and talent of her students.

“We have an incredibly passionate and committed group of students who really want to change the world,” said Kornfeld. “We try and give them the skills to do that. This showcase is an opportunity for them to give us, the faculty, and fellow students a taste of the work they are doing.”

The posters detailed innovative projects on issues including gun violence prevention, pioneering health and social service programs in Haiti, improvement in outcomes of HIV, implementation of culturally appropriate diabetes education and more.

The students are part of the Department of Public Health Sciences’ M.D./M.P.H., M.S.P.H. and M.P.H. programs.

“We have more than 350 Master’s-level students in our department,” said José Szapocznik, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. “Two hundred of them are in the largest program in the nation to obtain both their medical doctorate and Master’s in Public Health. More than half of our incoming students were born outside the United States. Our job is to give them the skills and tools needed to become the public health leaders of the 21st century.”

Since the first poster showcase three years ago, the department’s graduate students have traveled to 29 countries to transform lives through a better understanding of key public health issues.

This year alone, Szapocznik says, students have been to five continents. Some of their destinations included Myanmar, Rwanda, Singapore, Sierra Leone and Brazil.

M.D./M.P.H. student Julia Amundson traveled to Rio de Janeiro with a team from the Ryder Trauma Center to observe the implementation of a disaster preparedness program for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“My goal was to understand the implementation of this program to create and develop a trauma center from the ground up,” she said. “My goal was to understand what they were doing, how they were doing it, what some of the obstacles were and then potentially in the future give some of my observations back.”

While some of the projects were on a global scale, others focused on issues in Miami-Dade County.

Katherine Camfield worked on a project entitled “Assessing Community Needs and Health Knowledge: Enhancing DOCS Health Education Initiatives” along with fellow M.D./M.P.H. students Emma Crichton, Erin Dunn, and Jennifer Shiroky.

“There are so many chronic illnesses exploding in the U.S. right now,” she said. “I feel like if people have a good education and base line into what causes disease, they can help prevent them.”

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., said the students are serving as catalysts to develop sustainable partnerships in our local communities, as well as internationally. He said their field experiences and research create an intellectual environment that builds a platform for addressing challenges in the future.

“I am really delighted as the Dean of the Miller School of Medicine to know that so many extraordinarily talented young individuals are committing their life and their brain to figuring out how we will manage Planet Earth in the 21st century,” said Goldschmidt, who is also the Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of the University of Miami Health System.

Jennifer Shiroky spent four weeks in Haiti observing a pediatric residency program at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. Hoping to address a critical need, the program trains pediatricians who will practice in Haiti.

“We want to see if having the residents in the hospital has improved the quality of care — if pediatric patients are being seen more often, if the treatment regimens are better, and if it is following guidelines,” said Shiroky, a member of the M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2017.

First place winners were selected from each category – the Springboard Award, the Quantum Foundation Springboard Award, the Global Health Scholar Award, and the Department of Public Health Sciences Recognition – based on content, methodology, and presentation.

The winners are:

Taghrid Asfar, M.S.P.H. Class of 2014
“Smoking Behavior Among Adult Childhood Cancer Survivors: What Are We Missing?” – Department of Public Health Sciences Recognition

Jennifer Auf der Springe, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2015
“Be Merge?? and Beyond: Exploring Primary Care and Mental Health Care Coordination in Palm Beach County, Florida” – Quantum Springboard

Michelle Chong, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2017
“Community Health and Health Education at the Jubilee House Community in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua” – Global Health Scholar

Lamia Hossain, M.P.H. Class of 2015
“Assessing the Impact of Emergency Disaster Relief Efforts on Health Outcomes of Bangladeshi Trauma Victims from the April 2013 Rana Plaza Factory Collapse” – Springboard

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