Finding Their Own Voice: MPH Students Launch Public Health Blog
One of the major responsibilities of public health workers is to educate about a wide range of issues, from health policy to the latest infectious disease outbreak. Increasingly so, Americans are turning to digital media to receive their news, and several students in the Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health have taken notice. The “Future Voices of Public Health” blog is a space in which UF students can write about whatever public health topic interests them, including emergency preparedness, the latest news about EpiPens, and even professional development.
The idea for this blog emerged from a conversation between three Social and Behavioral Science (SBS) MPH students. Summer Slaughter, Johanzynn Gatewood, and Kelli Selwyn wanted to not only help their cohort gain valuable writing and health communication skills, but educate the public about health topics. “The community won’t always have access to the latest [research] articles, and we wanted to give that information back to individuals not in the immediate public health world. . . information is not being disseminated equality, and we want to help fill in that gap,” Summer noted. “Our main goal is the educate and inform others about public health topics.” After receiving support from both a faculty advisor, Dr. Mark Hart, and the College of Public Health and Health Professions, the blog was officially launched in the Fall of 2016. “I’m very proud of the hard work and initiative these students have shown,” Dr. Hart said, “from the initial assignments to designing an entire business plan, they have exceeded all expectations. I’m glad that they are passionate about helping educate local communities, and hope that this blog becomes a permanent fixture to be handed down to the next cohort of students each year.”
The blog is currently staffed by both SBS and Environmental and Global Health MPH students, but Summer hopes to expand that among all the concentrations. “Next semester we would like to have people from other concentrations be more involved,” she mentioned. Johanzynn said that they are encouraging MPH students “not only other concentrations, but even alumni as well whom want to come back and write something. The first alumni we have writing for us was a Health Policy and Management student who is taking time out of his job to write about a health bill recently passed in Florida.”
At the moment, Future Voices of Public Health is publishing an article every two weeks, but an influx of interest and submitted articles could easily change that. The staff are ready and able to respond to article requests and submissions about the latest breaking news in public health. In the near future, the blog staff could see an article posted more frequently, such as every week.
Over the next five years, Summer wishes for the blog to grow “as big as the Alligator, but for public health.” She envisions people in the other Health Science Center colleges, like Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry, and the rest of the UF Community, to use the blog as a reputable source for public health news. “When a dentist or vet reads our blog, they could relate their own work to public health. It helps to emphasize that holistic approach to public health rather than a single approach,” Johanzynn mentioned. She also added that writing articles on the blog “is a great way [for students] to build an online presence. Nowadays you have employers, professors, and even graduate schools looking into whom you are online. . .this is a great way for students to practice writing for their field, and some jobs even require a writing sample.”
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Future Voices of Public Health blog, from writing, to administration, or even social media, you are encouraged fill out an interest form or email the blog directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Students don’t even have to have a topic of interest in mind. If they just want to write and contribute, we already have a list of potential article ideas that anyone is welcome to write about,” Summer also mentioned. We are all very excited to see the interesting news and content produced by our talented students!