One of the most rewarding aspects of working in public health is the interdisciplinary nature of what we do. And effective teamwork is at the core of what makes that work successful. Over the past eight weeks or so, our group of nine graduate students in health behavior/health education and epidemiology transformed from individuals with personal goals, to a collaborative team of teams working to achieve positive public health change, and ultimately to a group of friends sharing an invaluable experience.
Whether we were sharing project feedback, discussing our community health observations about the South Texas region, or just chit-chatting about anything from a recent article about leprosy to the role of the food industry in the current obesity epidemic (as a self-professed nerd I loved these discussions) the combination of our diversity of experience with our daily shared experiences made for an incredibly informative and fulfilling week. In fact, a consistent theme I noted in each of the final project presentations (including my own) was the incredible value of learning through practice. Not only were we gaining experience working on interdisciplinary teams, both with students from other departments, and preceptors working in different fields, but also no matter what classes we had each taken up to this point we all identified with the unique value of this opportunity to apply what we learned in class to real life situations. As an aspiring public health professional, this experience has and no doubt will continue to have an enriching impact on the remainder of my training. I look forward to diving into this next chapter of learning with renewed vigor and a greater depth of experience shaping my academic and career goals and achievements.