Public Health Consultant
John Snow, Inc.
Jennie grew up in San Francisco, CA. She has a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish from Haverford College in PA and a MS in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. As a result of studying Spanish and spending a year in Barcelona, Spain, she is fluent in Spanish.
She said “…from a young age I was interested in health and well being and knew I wanted to work with people. I spent one summer during high school vacation as an OBGYN intern learning about women’s health work. After finishing high school I taught health education to low income 7th, 8th and 9th graders in the Aim High Program.”
Still interested in the field of health and helping people, Jennie started out doing pre-med requirements in college. She decided that she enjoyed the social side of medicine more than working with individuals one-on-one. Public health appealed to her because it looks at policy, systems, etc. so that one works across many different areas of health care.
For the last 3 1/2 years, Jennie has worked as a consultant for John Snow, Inc. Her title is Communications Director on the AIDS.gov Project, which is a program for the Federal Government Office of HIV AIDS Policy at the US Dept of Health & Human Services. At a national level Jennie is looking at how to communicate HIV prevention, testing information and resources to the public. She uses social media that targets a younger population (ages early 20’s to mid 30’s) and sub-groups (African Americans, African American men in particular, and MSM, men who have sex with men).
“One project we are working on, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Family Foundation, is a text messaging campaign where a person can send a text message with their ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948)” and will receive a text message back with the name of their local HIV testing site.”
She also works with community based organizations and other federal government agencies. Her job is to get information to these agencies so that they can deliver it to their communities. Jennie says that “The number of people contracting HIV is still going up. The estimate is 1,000,000+ people have HIV in the US today and 20% of these do not know they have HIV.”
Using social media, like Twitter, allows a quick way to send out messages and updates (statistics, resources, clinical guidelines for providers and other relevant information) to agencies, health departments, Planned Parenthood Clinics, etc.
Jennie says her biggest challenge is that “There is a lot to do. We have a big problem ahead of us thinking creatively, often with tight resources, about how we can have the biggest impact in our work. Because we are a portal, an online gateway to so much different information, we have to work with a number of agencies (FDA CDC, Food and Drug Administration, etc.). We need to get them to talk to each other, share information and to give it to us so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This requires patience and relationship building. Another challenge today is a lack of funding for public health programs.”
Her job is rewarding and enjoyable because she is affecting peoples lives in a positive way by reaching and helping people and their health providers.
Jennie thinks her Masters in Public Health has helped her in understanding program planning and evaluation, how to manage projects and the larger landscape of public health. Her job is educating her about the usefulness of social media.
She feels the keys to success in the field are being flexible, patient, willing to learn and being grounded in public health policy and practice.
Some new developments in the health care field are new priority health topics,
such as delivering the H1N1 vaccine to the states, obesity prevention, emergency preparedness, and chronic disease management. The new media tools are also helping hospitals and health centers share and deliver electronic health information.
Some of the ways Jennie keeps up to date are reading academic journals, attending conferences to present work or learning from others in the field. In addition she belongs to APHA (American Public Health Association).
When not working, Jennie loves to travel, hike, camp, painting, and cooking.