Category : PROspective
Who am I?
Blending Personal and Professional
Risk vs. Reward
Featured image from: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/topic/algorithm-updates/
Featured image from: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/topic/algorithm-updates/
Zoom Fatigue. When I first heard someone use this phrase back in the spring, I felt so seen. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I realized that it wasn’t just me! I had been spending hours a day on Zoom calls, and while this was far more sedentary than my usual routine, I was utterly exhausted at the end of the day. It turns out that the concentration and processing that are required for video conferencing take a toll on us in ways that in-person interactions do not.
I’m still Zooming quite a lot these days, and although I haven’t found a fool-proof way to overcome the realities of zoom fatigue, there are a few strategies that have proven helpful:
When possible, schedule some time in-between Zoom meetings. If you’re doing the scheduling, you can arrange for 25- or 50-minute meetings (in lieu of the usual 30- or 60-minutes) to allow yourself a chance to stretch your legs, get some water, and even run to the restroom!
If I’m tuning into a webinar, or a more informal meeting, I often plug in my headphones and listen in while I take my dog for a walk. It’s a win for both of us – we get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and I have the satisfaction of having gotten some work done, too!
I’m letting the cat out of the bag by sharing this…but I’ve blocked off Wednesdays on my calendar this summer as Zoom-free zones. Certainly, there are times when I can’t avoid it, but I try really hard not to schedule any Zoom meetings on Wednesdays. This gives me a nice breather during the week when I can completely devote my attention to my to-do list and avoid the distraction of hopping on and off Zoom calls. If you can’t block off an entire day, see whether there are regular mornings or afternoons that you can designate as Zoom-free zones.
Not all meetings require video! I’ve had some wonderful work-related phone calls this summer. Not only were they effective in achieving our goals, but they have been a really refreshing break from sitting in front of the computer. An added bonus to taking some meetings by phone is that I can safely multitask on these calls. Whether it’s sorting laundry or prepping for dinner – I’m able to engage in the conversation while also dealing with the realities of working and living all in the same space.
We’d love to hear from you about ways in which you are fighting Zoom fatigue – please feel free to share with us on Twitter or Instagram! If you’d like to learn more about the reality of Zoom fatigue and ways to combat it, check out this recent article from Harvard Business Review.
Featured Image from: https://www.consumerreports.org/video-conferencing-services/how-to-prevent-zoombombing/
This certainly is a wild time to be a public health graduate student! You are seeing epidemic curves unfold in real-time and applying the skills that you gained in the classroom to critically evaluate both the available data and the public health response. Epidemiology and public health are front and center – and we can feel confident that it will be a long time before we have to explain to friends and family exactly what epidemiology is.
Earlier this semester, I encouraged you to make the most of your Applied Practice Experience, and think beyond checking the proverbial box on this degree requirement. Despite the current circumstances, I think that this message rings just as true now as it did then.
We know that the challenges of identifying an APE are amplified due to the pandemic – some organizations are experiencing hiring freezes, while others have turned their attention to the pandemic response and previous plans have been put on hold. Although your APE might not look like what you had planned, I would encourage you to view this as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Our capacity for resiliency is far greater than any of us can comprehend, and these challenging times have the potential to bring out creativity that we didn’t know that we had. It is in this spirit that I wanted to share some strategies to help you find an APE over the coming months.
Is there an organization that you volunteered with prior to coming to Rollins, or one whose mission resonates with your core values? Reach out to these groups to see what opportunities they might have. Take the initiative to sell your skills and experience to note how it will benefit the organization.
Is there a professor whose work you really admire? Reach out to them to see if they have contacts with any outward facing organizations who might be interested in hosting an RSPH student.
Have you checked out #EpiTwitter yet? If not, now is the time to take the plunge! From budding epidemiologists to giants in our field – Twitter has become a place for sharing critiques of published studies, nerdy epidemiology jokes, and JOBS! There’s even an account (@EpiJobs) that regularly posts positions for both internships and full-time employment. Some students have even had success securing APEs by tweeting that they’re searching for an internship. If you decide to do this, be sure to include the #EpiTwitter hashtag, and provide some background information about who you are and what skills you hope to gain – it’s low risk with the potential for great reward. Pro tip: If you tag @EmoryEPI, there’s a good chance that your tweet will get even more traction!
Job postings will continue to become available both in Handshake and The Confounder. Remember that although The Confounder is distributed once a week as an email newsletter, you can access the scholarblog at anytime to view past and current content.
The RSPH Office of Career Development (OCD) has been hard at work to put together resources to help you during this time. Many of these are included below – but you may want to follow them on Instagram for more up-to-date information (and while you’re there, you should give rollinsepilife a follow, too!)
Individual Coaching Sessions:
To schedule a coaching appointment, please utilize Handshake as you have previously done to request a coaching appointment.
We encourage you to continue to pursue internship, APE and full-time job opportunities. OCD will continue to recruit and collaborate with organizations to create opportunities and emphasize the utilization of virtual hiring through Rollins. Public Health Organizations are still actively recruiting students, but most likely will be shifting their in-person hiring procedures to phone and virtual interviews for the time being. Continue to utilize our Handshake platform as one of your primary job search boards, as well as other resources and job boards like the Emory Public Health Connection and LinkedIn.
This is a new online mentoring platform where students can virtually network, seek job opportunities, and ask questions of alumni and public health professionals. Students may also be interested in our job search resources.
We know that financial considerations are particularly weighing heavily these days. Students who are experiencing financial hardship can apply to the EmoryTogether Fund for assistance. If you have additional questions or concerns, please email Student Services at rsphenrollmentservices [at] emory [dot] edu.
Even in non-pandemic times, students can find it challenging to find an APE – the networking that is required to secure these opportunities is new for some and can be awkward at first. You may need to pursue many (N > 30) avenues before you find something that will work. To help you keep track of these contacts, I recommend creating a spreadsheet to systematically track the progress of each of your outreach efforts. The lessons that you learn along the way will be valuable as you continue to work towards becoming the influential public health professional that you hope to be.
Take heart that much time remains to identify and complete your APE, and that we are here to support you in this process. If you’ve followed all of these steps and still come up short, please reach out to your ADAP and/or Dr. Ann Do, our faculty APE advisor, and they will work with you to identify additional strategies for finding something that will be a good fit.
Featured Image from: https://survivalreport.org/survival-contingency-planning/
The second semester is already off to a strong start – 2nd year students are diligently working on their Thesis and Capstone projects (and maybe wrapping up those core course requirements!), and 1st year students are immersed in causal inference, more advanced statistics, and designing & implementing epidemiologic studies. Now that we’ve finally settled into the routine of the new semester, we wanted to shed more light on one of the next milestones that our 1st year students are approaching: identifying an Applied Practice Experience. To our seasoned 2nd year students: we’d love to hear what you’d add to this conversation! Keep an eye out for this topic to surface on Twitter, and feel free to add the ways you made the most of your Applied Practice Experiences!
There are so many things that I love about Rollins (please don’t make me pick!) – but one thing that nears the top of my list is our Applied Practice Experience (APE) and the vast network of organizations that welcome our students each year. You may have heard this from me before, but my motivation for pursuing a career in public health was driven by wanting to make a difference. The reason why I love the APE so much is that it affords our students the opportunity to make their mark on public health even before graduation.
While some 1st year students are well on their way to identifying an APE, most are in the early phases of thinking about how their APE might take shape. As you begin researching opportunities, I urge you to think big so that you can use this opportunity as more than a way to proverbially “check the box” on this degree requirement.
First – you must know that this is very typical in the life of a Rollins student! One of my favorite moments from a recruitment event was hearing a GLEPI student say that his “research interests were aligned with whatever [he] learned about during the last seminar [he] attended.” There is so much great work happening in and around Rollins, and there is no shortage of important public health topics to tackle! Take advantage of your APE as a low-stakes way to test the waters in a new topic area.
Many students are drawn to the Rollins School of Public Health due to our proximity to the CDC, and lots of students complete their APE with a wide range of teams across the agency. The APE affords students an inside look at the work environment of their chosen organization. You might find out that your dream job really is at the CDC, or you might find that the work environment isn’t the fit that you thought it would be. Learning what doesn’t suit your strengths and interests can be just as informative as learning what does.
Well, not quite! While you will hopefully get a chance to apply your classroom knowledge and skillset during this experience – don’t forget that your APE is also going to test your soft skills and ability to navigate new workplace politics and dynamics. Maybe this means you will have your first opportunity to ask your manager for feedback, test new time-management techniques, navigate generational differences in the workplace, or find ways to translate the stress into focus. These techniques are just as valuable to an early career epidemiologist as experience with methods and their practical application and I encourage you to keep these ideas close at hand during your APE.
Thinking about next steps after graduate studies can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! You can use the entire Applied Practice Experience process – from start to finish – as a way to prepare for your next steps. The interview process will afford you greater confidence when you are ready to apply for fulltime positions after graduation [NOTE: you may wish to revisit Dr. Lash’s PROspective piece on making a good first impression]. Some students are able to continue working with their APE organization upon completion of the degree requirement, and are even hired full-time upon graduation. If you’d like to pivot to a different area (see above!), your APE supervisor may be willing to serve as a reference for you during your job search.
No matter what APE you choose, I urge you to seize every opportunity that you can to learn from these practicing public health professionals. Keep an eye out for ways in which you are gaining and applying those professional skills and foster good relationships with those you encounter along the way. This will set you apart in the applicant pool as you demonstrate that you have what it takes to be an influential public health professional. We cannot wait to hear how you choose to use the Applied Practice Experience to make your mark on public health!
Interested in more ways that the Applied Practice Experience can expand your horizons? Check out this short article for some additional thoughts!
“We use math and critical thinking to figure out who gets sick and why”
“No matter what we study, there are always individuals who are sick, suffering, or dying – and we’re all trying to do our part to reduce the frequency of those negative outcomes”
“The work that we do can take its toll on us, and it’s important that we don’t forget to take care of ourselves when we’re off trying to save the world”
Students often ask me how I found my way to public health – and while there’s a long and winding story that involves a knee injury and cigarette butts – it all comes down to a desire to use my quantitative skills to make a difference in the world.
Although I could not envision a more perfect job for myself than the one that I have, the reality is that this work isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, all the time. Among the successes of training the newest members of the public health workforce, shedding light on the importance of studying stillbirth, and breaking ground on a new stillbirth surveillance system, there are plenty of setbacks that have happened (and will continue to happen!) along the way.
It’s rare to hear about these setbacks (some might call them failures – I don’t love that term, and I’ll come back to why shortly!). I don’t know whether it’s a matter of pride, or simply wanting to avoid scaring those early in their careers or coming across as negative. But here’s the deal – no matter what field or sector you’re in, or how many years you have under your belt, we all stumble from time to time. Nothing goes perfectly for anyone 100% of the time.
In the last few months, I experienced two setbacks related to funding for my stillbirth research. I knew that the application pools were competitive, and although I prepared myself for either outcome, I took the news much harder than I thought I would. As I reflected on why I was so upset, I came to realize that although I was disappointed that we wouldn’t get to do the research that we had proposed, I couldn’t help but think about all of the families that we wouldn’t be able to help this time around. I felt as though I had let them down. It all came back to why I got into public health in the first place – I wanted to make a difference – and these setbacks had gotten in the way.
I don’t like to think of setbacks as failures – first, it’s just not good for my mental health; but more importantly, the word “failure” sounds so final and evokes imagery of a dead end, where there’s little hope to move forward. It helps me to think of these setbacks as speed bumps, rather than closed roads. Sure, they’ve slowed me down, but they have not, and will not, halt my progress.
After a family trip to my favorite ice cream shop, and sitting in my disappointment for a few days, the first question I asked myself was: what can we do better next time so that we could achieve a different outcome? As I read the reviewers’ comments, I realized that there were no concerns about the science. In fact, the reviewers were convinced that the proposed work was really important. The sticking point, though, was concern about whether the results could be used to secure future funding. Truth be told, funding for stillbirth research is hard to come by, and in light of these concerns, I spent the last few weeks strategizing about how to fund the work in innovative ways. During this time, I identified a few new leads, but I have also channeled some of my frustration into an op-ed with the goal of garnering some more attention for this important topic.
As you work through your own setbacks, or speed bumps, I would encourage you to consider the strategies outlined in this article (replacing the word failure with setback!), along with the following additions:
While our work may not be constantly filled with sunshine and rainbows – remember that the rainbows only come with the rain. I hope that the rain motivates you to keep pushing forward to find those rainbows – and that you keep at it. I am certain that you, too, got into this field because you wanted to make a difference – let’s not let those setbacks, however large or small, get in our way.
Have you ever joked about needing more hours in the day? Although I’d love to find a way to sneak in an extra hour or two, the hard truth is that we only have 24 hours to allocate across all of the demands on our time – both personal and professional. The article below has some good tips to consider for professional time management, although I’d add that it’s also important to think about how you allocate time to both your professional and personal selves. After all, none of us only exist in our work spaces!
After you read these tips, and review my thoughts below – I’d like you to consider taking on a 30 day planning challenge: adopt one or more of these strategies and stick to them (!!) for the next 30 days. At the end of that time, evaluate the effect that it had on your productivity and determine how you will approach the next 30 days. Let us know in the comments – which tips are you planning to adopt and how do you plan to institute them?
Each Sunday, I try to sit down and plan out the “must dos” to accomplish at work the following week. I plan around the meetings that are on my calendar, and block off time to complete these tasks. This is different than simply creating a to-do list. When I don’t dedicate time for specific tasks, I notice that my weeks aren’t as productive, and I have tasks that remain unfinished.
As part of my Sunday planning, I also keep track of the ~10,374 activities that our family might have in a given week. With 3 growing boys, you can safely assume that grocery shopping tops the list of family priorities! To avoid the weekend rush, we plan around my teaching schedule (I’m looking at you, EPI 740!), and shop on a weeknight when I can get home a little early. This semester, Mondays are for grocery shopping – this means that I know not to count on having extra time on Monday evenings to catch up on work. I am protective of my time both at work and at home – I try not to let one bleed into the other, but certainly there are times when I have to make exceptions.
Last – but certainly not least – I plan time to take care of myself. After much trial and error, I realized that there is much truth in the expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Whether it is exercise, reading, cooking, being in nature, or spending time with friends – find things that are truly rejuvenating for you and engage in those routinely. Personally, I love to sew – you can see a sampling of some recent projects here!
We are in the business of prevention, and yet we often work ourselves into the ground without realizing that we could have intervened and had a different outcome (hello, counterfactual!). The time that you spend caring for yourself is a worthwhile investment, and will likely amount to less time than you would need to recover after overworking yourself.
8 crucial time management tips adapted from “Jump Start Productivity,” Healthcare Executive, September/October 2010
Category : News/Events
We wish a warm welcome to our new students, and are delighted to welcome back our returning students! The beginning of the academic year is such an exciting time for all of us.
I’m always energized by the enthusiasm and passion of our new students, who are beginning to explore all that the Rollins School of Public Health has to offer. You have joined a vibrant community of scholars who share your passion for promoting health and eliminating inequities. During the next two years, you will be able to explore your interests further – you may deepen your resolve to pursue the passions that led you here, and you may also discover new areas that you hadn’t considered before. I encourage you to seek out many new opportunities while you are here – there is no better time to soak in all that you can, and these two years will come to a close before you know it.
The return of our second year students is always exciting, as well. Many of you have spent the summer working on your Applied Practice Experiences and bring fresh ideas and perspectives with you as you return to the classroom. You’ve also turned your eyes towards your theses, and will begin to make measurable progress towards completing this milestone soon. As the semester begins, I encourage all of you to be thoughtful about how you carve out time so that you can balance your coursework, thesis, and your personal wellbeing.
We look forward to having the opportunity to get to know you both inside and outside of the classroom. This year, we will continue our monthly Chair’s Chats – a time for you to spend with myself, as your Director of Graduate Studies, and our Department Chair, Tim Lash. This is an event that we look forward to each month – we enjoy the opportunity to hear from you! It’s important to us to hear what is going well, and whether there are ways in which we can improve. We also use this as an opportunity to bring in guest speakers, and share some tips for how to help you become influential public health leaders.
We are also excited to announce a new seminar series for this academic year: Behind the Manuscript. While it would be nice if research were always packaged nicely and tied up with a beautiful bow, the reality is that things don’t always happen as the text books might lead you to believe. These sessions will be led by faculty in the Department of Epidemiology, and will pull back the curtain to allow you to see what it takes to get to the polished manuscripts that you see in the literature. Our first session will be on September 24th from 12-12:50, and will be led by Dr. Mike Goodman. Stay tuned for more details!
For information on these, and other, Departmental events – please keep an eye out on Canvas, the Confounder, and the weekly RSPH events emails. The best way to ensure that you make it to these events is to get them on your calendar! Please see this link for instructions on how to add these to your calendar.
Again – welcome, and welcome back! We are thrilled that you are here and look forward to the year ahead.
Director of Graduate Studies, MPH & MSPH Programs