School of Public Health

SPH news

Posted Date: August 15, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Stacey GrinerStacey Griner, PhD, MPH, CPH, RDH, joins the UNTHSC School of Public Health this fall as Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems, and Program Director for the Public Health Practice MPH degree.  

 Her educational background includes a PhD in Public Health, along with a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies, from the University of South Florida, Tampa.  She completed her MPH degree, concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Dr. Griner also holds a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene Education from St. Petersburg College, Florida, and before entering academia, was in clinical dental hygiene practice for more than 10 years.

As she begins her first semester as UNTHSC faculty, Dr. Griner will be mentoring and advising Maternal and Child Health MPH students and teaching courses including “Introduction to Maternal and Child Health,” “Maternal and Child Health Across the Life Course” and “Human Sexuality and Reproductive Health.”

With a focus on health behavior, sexual and reproductive health and community health, she has experience teaching both in-class and online, and has mentored students over the years who have gone on to pursue careers as clinicians, researchers and public health experts.

Drawing from the social determinants of health and the ecological perspective to encourage students to examine health disparities and their ultimate causes from multiple levels, Dr. Griner is committed to serving others first through her mentoring, teaching and collaborations.

Her primary goal for students, she says, is to “encourage personal and professional growth, well-being and success, and actively strive to promote each student’s individual potential.”

Dr. Griner’s research focuses on maternal and child health and risk behaviors among adolescents and young adults, primarily related to risky sexual health behaviors and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening and prevention, oral health, condom use, contraceptive use, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, alcohol and drug use, violence prevention, the relationship between HPV and oral cancers, and HPV prevention programming for dental providers.

Dr. Griner is a member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American College Health Association (ACHA), the National Coalition for STD Directors (NCSD), and the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health (ATMCH). She serves as an ad hoc manuscript reviewer for the American Journal of Sexuality EducationJournal of American College HealthSexually Transmitted DiseasesJournal of Interpersonal ViolenceAmerican Journal of Health Behavior and the Journal of Cancer Education.

 

Posted Date: August 5, 2019

By Sally Crocker

CardinalCardinal is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health, College of Health Sciences, at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. She has been on the SHSU faculty for three years.

Her teaching areas include health law and ethics, health policy and multicultural health care studies.

“I work to cultivate students’ interest in population health, and every semester I have the privilege of taking their work outside the classroom with academic community engagement projects,” Cardinal says. “We primarily work with Ryan’s Challenge, a nonprofit that supports families with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare, genetic disease.”

Cardinal serves on the organization’s board of directors, and her students over the last three years have worked to help educate legislators, patients and the public about the disease.

She is a 2013 graduate of the UNTHSC MPH – Professional Option degree program, and practiced law before pursuing a career in education.

Cardinal says her experiences as a cancer patient and as the mother of a child with a rare genetic disease inspired her to research, publish and teach health ethics, law and policy.

“Helping one client at a time as an attorney, while admirable, didn’t affect change to the degree I could in one semester as a professor with 250 students and published research,” she said.

Her advice for current students: “Unpaid volunteering and networking pay tenfold in the future. Don’t commit yourself so completely to one career path that you limit your options. It’s always good to have a Plan B. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone,” she says. “Interdisciplinary connection is essential, and no one expects you to be an expert on everything. Learn from each other.”

 

Posted Date: July 26, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Carolyn Bradley GuidryAs famous musician Ringo Starr once wrote, “you know, it don’t come easy.”

For Dr. Carolyn Bradley-Guidry (DrPH ’19), the turning point came midway through her UNT Health Science Center public health doctoral degree program.

The first in her family to graduate from college, with a nursing degree and a bachelor’s and master’s in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies already under her belt, Dr. Bradley-Guidry had achieved some significant career successes when she found herself at a roadblock in her Doctor of Public Health pursuits.

Basically, she was ready to call it quits.

Nearly 50 years old, with more than 30 years in the healthcare field and a faculty position teaching and pioneering efforts in diversity and inclusion at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, she didn’t really need another degree to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

Work, family and community engagement were all taking enough of her time.

She had reached a point of overload; she felt overwhelmed.

Maybe it was better, she thought, to give it a rest.

The inspiration to keep going, and what has always pushed Dr. Bradley-Guidry forward, came from her faith and the love and support of others.

Family, and especially her parents, husband and three daughters, were there to say, “do it, you know you can, don’t give up.”

“I once heard a pastor at a revival speak about ‘ABC,’ the concept of ‘Adversity Builds Character,’ and it’s true, the trials and tribulations of life will always come,” Dr. Bradley-Guidry said. “It’s how you handle those challenges that determines your success.”

A sweet moment for Dr. Bradley-Guidry was hearing her name called at UNTHSC commencement as recipient of this year’s President’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Academics.

Taking on the tough challenges – and excelling to the highest level in her UNTHSC studies – gives her an opportunity to inspire others, to tell them, “you can do it too.”

Carolyn Bradley Guidry And FamilyBorn in Mississippi and raised in Dallas, she first studied nursing with the assistance of student loans and then was able to pay them off, building her career along the way.

Her nursing degree led to a job at Parkland Hospital, where she was inspired by a physician mentor to go even further, completing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in PA Studies.

Dr. Bradley-Guidry found her way to public health in 2013 when she was selected as one of 90 out of more than 400 applicants for a Translational Health Disparities Scholars program through the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

“The educational experience was life changing, and enhanced my knowledge of social determinants of health and health disparities,” she said.

“As soon as I returned home, I began searching for a public health graduate program. I had always felt a burning desire to do more for the community, and I saw that opportunity with public health,” Dr. Bradley-Guidry said. “I wanted to take my experience in working with patients one-on-one to an expanded, community-based approach.”

Because she grew up in some of the same neighborhoods, churches and schools as the people she now serves, Dr. Bradley-Guidry feels a strong connection to both her patients and the PA students she trains.

“I encourage patients to take ownership of their own health and to be a change agent for others,” she said. “If I can motivate one person to live healthier, maybe that person can inspire his or her family and carry it on to other people they know in their community.”

In the classroom, she assumes the role of educator, mentor, faculty liaison and role model.

“Students sometimes think they can do it on their own. My story demonstrates how a strong support network can help get you through,” she said. “It might be family, peers, close connections or professors who are there for you. You never know where you’ll find your support.”

As the song goes, “it don’t come easy,” but it is achievable, and Dr. Bradley-Guidry hopes to be an example inspiring others to pursue their best lives and follow their passions as she has done.

Her advice to anyone with a goal or dream is to “work hard, remain faithful, identify a support system and mentors, don’t give up and let your outcomes speak for you.”

“If others hadn’t helped me along the way, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now,” Dr. Bradley-Guidry said. “I could not have done any of this without my faith and the love and support of my family, mentors and the people who told me I could do it.”

 

Posted Date: July 23, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Adetoun SodimuA 2013 UNTHSC MPH-Epidemiology graduate, Sodimu serves as Clinical Research Manager at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. In this position, she oversees pulmonary disease clinical trials, mainly involving rare lung diseases.

Over the three-plus years she has worked for UT Southwestern, Sodimu has also held positions as a Clinical Data Specialist and Research Study Coordinator.

How did UNTHSC prepare her for the work she’s doing now?

“The MPH degree helped me in understanding study protocols, reviewing study data and effectively managing projects,” she says. “Most importantly, I was able to appreciate the significance of paying attention to details, being aware of possible biases and confounders that could compromise data integrity and possible ways to prevent or minimize them.”

Two experiences helped lead her to UNTHSC to pursue a public health degree.

As an undergraduate working on her BS in Zoology, Sodimu’s final thesis focused on intestinal parasites found in South West Nigerian school children. As her interest in the children grew, so did her interest in the general state of the environment. Later, after graduation, she volunteered with a not-for-profit organization serving a population at risk for sexually transmitted disease.

“Both experiences confirmed my passion for public health, specifically epidemiology. UNTHSC seemed the best fit for me when I decided to pursue my passion,” she says.

Her advice for current students: “Be open, be flexible and be eager! The research world is filled with opportunities that you may never know existed until you venture into them. My passion started with field epidemiology, from pre-graduate school experiences, moved on to data analysis during my graduate program, and finally settled on clinical research after graduation. I am still serving the same purpose but in different capacities. Each experience has contributed to who I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

Posted Date: July 16, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Scott WaltersScott Walters, PhD, Regents Professor and Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health, has been named Steering Committee Chair for the HEALing Communities Study, part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis.

More than $350 million will support this multi-year study under a cooperative agreement supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of NIH, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The study’s goal is to reduce opioid deaths by at least 40% over a three-year period in nearly 70 communities hard hit by the opioid crisis across Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.

Four independent research sites – at Boston Medical Center, Columbia University in New York, Ohio State University and the University of Kentucky –  will build on extensive, well-established NIH research to implement, test and evaluate a set of proven prevention and treatment strategies for opioid overdose, recovery and support.

The study will track outcomes such as drug fatalities, medication access, prescribing patterns and treatment initiation.

“This project will create a national model for curbing the opioid crisis,” Dr. Walters said. “Nearly 50,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2017, and millions of other Americans are struggling with drug dependence. Overdose rates in some communities have become so great that it’s really a moral imperative for us to find solutions.”

The rise in misuse of prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids has contributed to the crisis, and people in communities affected by economic downturn have been at especially high risk, Dr. Walters said.

“My role as Steering Committee Chair will be like that of a stage manager, to keep track of all aspects of the project and make sure people have what they need to keep things moving,” Dr. Walters said. “What makes this project unique is the scope of the problem we’re addressing and the way it brings solutions together across different channels, including healthcare, behavioral health, the justice system and other community-based settings.”

As a public health professor and researcher, Dr. Walters’ work has focused on the use of motivational interviewing and technology for behavioral health and substance abuse solutions among different populations, including probationers, homeless adults, veterans, victims of interpersonal violence, young adults and low income individuals with mental health conditions.

 

Posted Date: July 11, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Practice Experience Jps1A UNT Health Science Center student found the perfect match and mentor when she was connected to JPS Health Network, Tarrant County, for her professional internship.

Now one year later, 2019 UNTHSC graduate Ashley Lamar, MPH, CPH, CHES, works full time in the department where she learned the ropes and contributed in a meaningful way toward community health while pursuing her degree.

As a Trauma Injury Prevention Specialist, Lamar works with Mary Ann Contreras, RN, Violence and Injury Prevention Manager, JPS Trauma Services.

Contreras served as her site supervisor over the last year and said she “nearly cried” when the internship was coming to an end.

The two hit it off so well, that when Contreras’ department was able to expand its role and fund a new employee, Lamar was the first candidate considered.

UNTHSC and JPS have worked together for years to help students gain real-world experience and give added perspective to their degree programs. The UNTHSC School of Public Health represents one such partnership.

The Public Health Practice Experience is part of the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program that links students to community organizations fitting their areas of interest, where an opportunity exists to meet the needs of both.

It’s a learning experience for students and a way to bring their coursework to life. For partnering organizations, it’s a way to gain assistance and an added perspective to some of their most pressing public health challenges.

Through their roles at JPS, Contreras and Lamar focus on prevention, a major component of healthcare today.

“As a Level I Trauma Center accredited by the American College of Surgeons, we have seen an important trend over recent years, to view healthcare through a wider public health lens,” Contreras said. “In looking at what can cause injury and how to help people prevent it, factors like environment, behavior, policy and education are all key.”

As a member of UNTHSC’s Academic-Community Partnerships Advisory Board, Contreras expressed an interest in mentoring a student to begin the match process.

As she completed a survey, Lamar and fellow students were completing a questionnaire of their own.

The next step involved speed interviews, where potential matches met on the UNTHSC campus. Through various 15-minute conversations, students and organizations learned about each other and scored their preferred choices.

“My top pick was Mary Ann,” Lamar said.

Contreras’ top pick was Lamar.

A match was made.

From there came the onboarding process, including orientations on both sides to get students ready for work, with badges, pre-employment requirements, trainings, goals and guidelines for supervisors, an assigned UNTHSC faculty advisor and other tools to support the match over a full year, from May through the following April.

Being able to work with a student for that long, Contreras said, was of real benefit and enabled the pair to accomplish more than just a single semester’s work. In all, UNTHSC public health students log about 600 hours by the time their internships are completed.

Lamar’s work analyzing crime data on community violence within high-risk Tarrant County zip codes led to focus group meetings and, ultimately, recommendations for prevention.

“As Ashley grew in her role, I was also able to take on more in mine,” Contreras said.

For the nurse manager with a longtime career in trauma services, the combination of her background and the enthusiastic, public health mindset Lamar brought to the job has worked well.

Over the coming year, UNTHSC public health students and other organizations around and beyond Texas will benefit from similar matches, to help students prepare for their futures and find healthy solutions for the communities they serve.

While students have the option of finding their own match, Lamar said she’s happy for the process that led her to Contreras and JPS.

“We didn’t have to go far to find each other,” Lamar said. “Mary Ann is the best boss I could have asked for, and I’m grateful to be a part of the work JPS is doing.”

When a connection is right, it’s right, and it spurs even greater opportunities.

For next year, Contreras and Lamar will share what they’ve learned and go one step further, with another new UNTHSC intern.

Posted Date: July 5, 2019

By Sally Crocker

 

Sally HogerSally Hoger, DrPH, MS, SM(ASCP), is Associate Professor, Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Public Health, at Tarleton State University. She has served on the Tarleton faculty for 15 years.

In 2012, Dr. Hoger completed the DrPH degree with a concentration in health policy from the UNTHSC School of Public Health. In addition to her UNTHSC degree, she holds an M.S. in Biomedical Science and a B.S. in Microbiology.

She teaches undergraduate clinical microbiology and graduate-level statistics courses for the Medical Laboratory Science program at Tarleton’s Fort Worth campus.

What attracted Dr. Hoger to public health?

“As I progressed in my career,” she says, “I decided a background in public health would allow me to better explain the role of the laboratory in infectious disease surveillance and as part of the healthcare delivery system. The graduate students learn research methodology using healthcare related datasets.”

Before moving into education, Dr. Hoger worked in two large clinical microbiology laboratories as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in the local area, gaining “valuable and relevant experience” within the JPS Health Network and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

How did the UNTHSC degree help her prepare for the work she’s doing now?

“In addition to enhancing my teaching, my background in public health helped me to design a three-track undergraduate degree in public health that is offered on our Stephenville campus,” she says. “I have also embarked on some collaborative efforts with the Stephenville campus faculty to evaluate the potential for transmission of drug-resistant bacteria in livestock to humans.”

At UNTHSC, as she began taking her first few courses, Dr. Hoger says “it became evident that I had made the right choice.”

“The field of public health opened my eyes to the many determinants of human health, such as the behavioral, policy and real-world challenges involved in improving the health of the population, that may not be evident to the average person,” she notes.

Her advice for current students? “Evaluate the many aspects of public health and pursue the area that interests you most. Over the long-term, it is your passion that sustains and builds your career.”

Posted Date: June 27, 2019

By Sally Crocker

What About Mom Header

 

Because a mother’s health is so important to that of her baby, a team from UNT Health Science Center has joined with TCU’s Harris College of Nursing and families across Tarrant County to develop a new online tool for helping postpartum moms take care of their health.

This tool, an easy-to-use, online symptom checker for mothers just home from the hospital, is now being adopted for use across the country by the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities (NIMHD).

The idea initiated with Dr. Teresa Wagner, a leading Texas health literacy advocate, who serves as Assistant Professor with the UNTHSC School of Public Health, Senior Fellow for Health Literacy with SaferCare Texas, and Fellow and Project Director for the Texas Center for Health Disparities, funder of the project through award number U54MD006882.

Over the last year, Dr. Wagner and UNTHSC student mentee Amber Gadson (TCOM class of ’20) talked with local parents about the health questions and concerns new mothers face when leaving the hospital, while TCU nursing students and faculty interviewed maternity nurses and community health workers for their insights into new mothers’ educational needs and the cultural appropriateness of health materials provided.

With assistance from TCU computer science students, the team used this information to build an online symptom checker called “What About Mom?” where parents can learn about potential health warning signs and what to do.

Ihn Meeting“Coming home from the hospital with a new baby is hard, whether you’re a first-time parent or have done it before,” Dr. Wagner said. “New moms are so busy; they may not always recognize when a problem of their own might require a call to the doctor or a visit to the emergency room. Elevated blood pressure, heart problems, signs of infection, even feelings of depression can have a profound impact on mothers’ health and could become dangerous if overlooked.”

“The symptom checker also includes a section for partners, who may be the first to recognize the unusual,” Dr. Wagner said. “If mom seems overly exhausted, isn’t eating or feeling well, comes across as sad or overwhelmed, or has concerning physical symptoms, there is a lot that partners can do for support and to help ensure health and safety.”

Gadson, who connected with families through Healthy Start, a partner on the research project, learned a lot from the community interviews and overall experience, as did TCU’s nursing students.

Through two classes over the fall and spring, TCU’s future nurses joined Dr. Wagner for interprofessional (IPE) learning activities on health literacy and worked under the guidance of their professor Marie Stark, RNC, to update new mother discharge materials typically distributed through hospitals. The resulting new brochure prototypes – simplified and presented in easily-understandable terms versus “medical speak” – helped Gadson talk to parents about how they prefer to receive health information.

“The brochures were well received, as was the idea of a web-based resource,” Gadson said. “Most moms said they didn’t have time to flip through packets of paperwork while caring for a baby. They wanted quick and easy health resources.”

For Assistant Professor Stark, a longtime nurse and veteran educator, the partnership between TCU and UNTHSC has helped expand Tarrant County’s focus on maternal and child health and has the potential to reach even more families now that NIMHD plans to adopt the web-based tool.

“This project is unique and specific to the health of new mothers,” Stark said. “After delivery, moms might have questions like, why do I feel this way, should I call the doctor, or they may not recall all the instructions provided at the hospital. If the information is too complicated, unclear or patients don’t remember, how likely are they to get the care they might need?”

Jennifer Haston and Alexandra Wuller, new nursing graduates who worked on the project, both said it has given them a better perspective on communications with patients and families.

“It’s up to us to ask questions, listen to what patients are saying and provide health information in ways that work for them,” Haston said.

Wuller said she has learned much about the “absolutely positive, impactful way” that education and health literacy can address maternal mortality.

“Health literacy is critical, especially when a new mom returns home in a very vulnerable state,” she said. “Knowledge is key, knowledge is power and in these situations, knowledge may be the difference between life and death.”

 

Posted Date: June 24, 2019

By Sally Crocker
Brittany Marshall
UNTHSC School of Public Health graduate Brittany Marshall, DrPH, CPH, CHES, has been recognized by the de Beaumont Foundation as a “40 Under 40 in Public Health” leader who is improving health, changing lives and helping to strengthen communities across the country through creativity and innovation.

Founded in 1998, the de Beaumont Foundation creates and invests in solutions to improve the health of communities through partnerships, policies, entrepreneurial problem-solving, the public health workforce and local approaches to achieving broad, lasting change.

The organization’s vision is to help build a nation where every person in every community has an opportunity to achieve their best possible health.

This year marks the de Beaumont Foundation’s first list of 40 Under 40 honorees, who work in a variety of public health-related positions across the U.S.

Dr. Marshall, who received her DrPH in Public Health Practice from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2016, currently works as an Evaluation Specialist for the CDC Foundation in Atlanta.

In her role with the CDC, Dr. Marshall leads an impact evaluation of the UPS Road Code Safe Driving for Teens program alongside partners at the UPS Foundation and the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Her practice and research interests include HIV prevention, program evaluation and implementation science.

The de Beaumont Foundation recognized as a Bold Solution her creation of “Kevin’s Korner,” an online platform where community members in Lake County, Florida, can ask anonymous questions related to STDs and HIV, helping to overcome a culture of stigma and allowing individuals to receive the support and care they need.

“Each and every day, Brittany Marshall strives to eliminate healthcare inequalities, especially within African American and urban communities, in both her professional and personal life,” the de Beaumont Foundation said.

Dr. Marshall is an alumna of LEAD Atlanta, GeorgiaForward Young Gamechangers, the National Urban League Emerging Leaders Program and New Leaders Council.

 

Posted Date: June 20, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Ryan DuganRyan Dugan, MHA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is Vice President of Human Resources and Employee Health for Medical City North Hills in Richland Hills, Texas.

He was promoted to this position in September 2018 and has been with the Medical City Healthcare system in various recruiting and human resources management roles over the years, beginning at Medical City Plano and working for Baylor University Medical Center, Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children’s Hospital before moving to the North Hills facility. Medical City Healthcare is one of Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest, most comprehensive healthcare providers, including 14 hospitals, eight off-campus emergency rooms, 11 ambulatory surgery centers, more than 4,400 active physicians and 17,000 employees.

Dugan, who received his MHA from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2013, says his degree helped him gain additional background into HR law, healthcare economics, insurance and managed care, as well as other areas that tie well to his current HR leadership role.

He emphasizes the real-world exposure and valuable experiences gained through his UNTHSC capstone project and internship in helping him continue to grow in his different professional roles and current position.

“I have always been interested in healthcare. It is the family business,” Dugan says. “My mom is a nurse; my grandmother was a nurse; my wife, her mother and two of my sisters-in-law are nurses; my brother is a firefighter/paramedic; and my dad is a nursing home administrator.”

Dugan’s desire to move into healthcare administration aligned with the launch of UNTHSC’s MHA program, and because he wanted to work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, UNTHSC felt like the right place to pursue his degree.

His current role as Vice President of Human Resources is one of selection, onboarding and retention of top clinical and healthcare support professionals, as well as managing compliance.

“This is critical,” he says, “as ensuring we have the right staff functioning at a high level has an impact on the community we serve. The hospital not only supports inpatient stays but also does a great deal of outreach and education about healthcare issues we face as a community. Our ability to teach the community about issues around heart disease, mental health, trauma, communicable diseases and other important topics all supports public health.”

Dugan’s advice for current students? “Take an active role in both your education and your personal/professional development. Take advantage of all the great networking opportunities offered through UNTHSC and reach out to alumni or former students when you have interest in their areas of healthcare. Make the most of your internship and capstone, as they will both help you get exposure and open the door to future opportunities,” he says.