Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Public Health Culture

Join Leonore Okwara, MPH as she discusses public health research, initiatives, and how to engage the community in it all.

Oct 6, 2020

Melicent Miller, DrPH (c), MSPH, BS, is a Health Improvement Supervisor at the Virginia Department of Health and has over a decade of experience working in the field of public health. She is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of communities by engaging in multi-sectoral partnerships aimed at collectively impacting social determinants/influencers of health and reducing health inequities and health disparities. She has spent the majority of her career working in chronic disease prevention and management and helping people be well. 

 In This Episode We Cover:

  • Her background and her career journey
  • Why she choose to earn her DrPH versus a PhD
  • How she navigates community relationships
  • Why always being willing to learn more and dig deep is the key to success
  • How health equity is interconnected with so many other disciplines
  • The different public health programs she manages
  • The positions and roles of the staff who work under her
  • The tools and strategies she uses to stay organized and on top of everything
  • The importance of Community Health Workers
  • What steps someone can take to work in this field  

Stand-Out Quotes:

  • “It (public health work) fuels my passion to be creative and innovative and think of ways we can reach those who are most underserved, most vulnerable, hidden populations, and even those who have been exploited. It’s my life’s work and I enjoy it everyday.”
  • “We (civil servants) know the importance of engaging the community.  The community is filled with so many resources, not just financial but also lived experiences.”
  • “It’s a matter of understanding who you are serving, why you are serving, and how you can serve those individuals even if it’s not through direct service.” 
  • “Keeping a pulse on what’s going on in our communities, not just the data but the  anecdotal evidence that we have on how things are impacting them is critically important.”
  • “Understanding the gaps or missing links in service is and the provision of care is also critically important.”
  • “It’s always a willingness to learn more and dig deep into your partnerships.” 
  • “We are all here to serve our community and we do it better when we collaborate.”
  • “Addressing individual and population health doesn’t reside just in the walls of a clinic.”

Action Steps:

  • Use technology and creativity to serve your communities.
  • For someone who is new to the field don’t get hung up on titles.  Don’t be afraid to jump right in and ask the tough questions.  Remember, new practitioners bring new perspectives and fresh ideas.
  • To manage everything: 
    • Make lists of all of your tasks.  
    • Keep a calendar with due dates.  
    • Keep a pulse on the community and check in on staff periodically. 
    • Take notes.  Use technology to keep track of her notes.  
  • Find ways to educate yourself, both formal and lived experience is important. 
  • Networking is essential.  If you hear about someone or read about someone doing the work you want to do, reach out to them.  There are people who will take you under their wing.  

Reach Out:

  • LinkedIn:
  • Twitter: @MelicentM
  • Follow her on these two social media channels as she will soon be starting a new podcast called "Health EverywHERe" and you won’t want to miss anything!

Interested in being a guest on the podcast? Reach out to Leonore Okwara, MPH at