UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH) students, faculty and alumni participated in a variety of educational workshops and had opportunity to network at dinners and other events as part of this year’s American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo in San Diego.
More than 13,000 public health professionals from across the country took part in this four-day conference, held November 11-14, focused on the theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.”
Breakout sessions covered topics including chronic disease management; infectious disease prevention; environment and food safety; health reform; maternal and child health, with a special focus on the role of fathers and partners; and other key determinants of building a healthier population.
UNTHSC Public Health Student Government Association (PHSGA) President Luvleen Dharni and PHSGA Vice President Sarah Matthes were selected to represent the SPH at the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) led during the conference by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). The SLI is a skill-building and networking opportunity for student leaders at ASPPH-member institutions.
Other UNTHSC students attended the APHA conference as well, with travel scholarships provided by the SPH and PHSGA.
“Attending this conference gave me a great opportunity to network and learn more about the importance of advocacy in the field of public health,” Dharni said. “I was surrounded by people who value public health and understand the impact we make at the population level. I looked forward to returning to campus to work with the student body in taking small steps to help build the healthiest Tarrant County community.”
During the trip, Dharni and other participants were also involved in two Public Health Service Day volunteer events, to help clean up San Diego’s Embarcadero Beach and Promenade, and to give time to a non-profit agency’s thrift boutique dedicated to child abuse prevention and building family resilience.
The most memorable breakout session for Dharni featured a panel presentation on “Dying Too Soon,” looking into critical issues surrounding the premature deaths of women in the U.S.
For Matthes, the opportunity to take part in SLI, to learn from experts on cultural humility and writing as a public health tool, and to interact with student leaders from other universities and programs was especially important.
Dr. Dennis Thombs, SPH Dean, said this year’s annual meeting also gave faculty and alumni a chance to reconnect, as well as to participate in various breakout sessions and presentations, gain new insight and collaborate with other schools, researchers and industry leaders.
“It’s an important experience for our students and a great way to join with our colleagues on a national level in exploring new solutions to some of public health’s greatest challenges,” he said.
The 2019 APHA Annual Meeting is scheduled for November 2-6 in Philadelphia, with the theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For Science. For Action. For Health.”