Category Archives: PROspective

Making the Most of Your Public Service Opportunity

Category : PROspective

As a continuation of his last two articles, Robert Merritt talks about how to make the most of your career in public services.  To read his previous article “The Many Roads to Federal Service at CDC” click here and to read his article “An Accidental Career in Public Health” click hereThis article was originally published in April 2022. 

Written by: Robert Merritt

One of my responsibilities as a senior scientist and manager at CDC is to foster the development of young professionals. I take this very seriously and encourage all my peers to do the same. I’d like to offer some thoughts and advice to those of you that might be considering a career in public service. Although these are drawn from my work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they would also apply to work at a variety of other public federal, state, or local agencies (and even many non-profit organizations).

First and foremost, remember: “It’s not about you.”

Public service is focused on others. Currently, the public sector is, without a doubt, a very challenging place to work. Intense scrutiny, vocal criticism, unpredictable resources, and volatile politics will test your mettle, sheer will, and selfless service every day. It is work that aims to support the general welfare and needs of all citizens. This career choice is not about money or fame, but about understanding where we are as a society and how to make it better in some meaningful way. It has been said that public servants have some core qualities (or attributes) that enable them to successfully navigate and contribute to public service. These, in my opinion, are willingness to learn, desire to help others, and an ability to engage people.

Will to Learn

The fact that most of us have (or will soon have) a graduate degree does not negate the need for lifelong learning. Common sense dictates that continuous quality learning is important to every endeavor – especially professional development and success. Therefore, eagerness and craving for new information are essential. To make a positive difference, you should seek to constantly refresh your understanding and learn to adapt to change. My experience is that knowledge and the half-life of knowledge (the length of time that knowledge stays active and accurate) diminish over time.

I strongly urge each new member of my team to seek as many opportunities to learn as they can. What does this mean? Don’t just sit idle and inwardly reflect on your newly acquired book knowledge! Apply your knowledge, skills, and abilities by actively engaging and putting them to practical use! Get to know your colleagues and their expertise through informational meetings. Learn about emerging and new priorities by attending seminars and grand rounds. Join a journal club or community of practice (COP) on a topic of interest. Register for some of the hundreds of training courses sponsored by the agency.

To be successful, you need to be adept at lifelong learning and understand that what you learn now may not be the same in the future – so you need to keep ahead of the curve. Make yourself as informed, well-rounded, and observant of the world as possible.

Make a Difference

The public sector exists to bring services to people, so those working as public servants should have a strong desire to work on behalf of others. As advocates for positive change, leaders in public service know that their positions come with a profound sense of duty. Every public servant has an important role to play, whether they serve as executives, administrators, project officers, program officials, medical officers, epidemiologists, health scientists, or statisticians.

Therefore, the best route to accountability is through public sector professionals who really dedicate themselves to making a difference. We need to invest in the people of our civil service system by developing their skills and strengthening their standards, so they understand the real importance of good governance and the critical role of accountability. The key to future, continued good governance and accountability lies in the way in which we recruit, train, develop, manage, and lead our future public servants. In the end, we are accountable to the citizens we serve.

Engage Others

Public service is not a solo exercise. It’s a team sport. If you want to make a difference in the public sector, you must be ready to include and engage others as part of your work. Think beyond your own organizational perspective and look at things from the viewpoint of our citizens, including (but not limited to) taxpayers, legislators, grantees (city, county, state, tribal, territorial health departments), voluntary and non-government organizations, other Federal agencies, and global partners.

I realized early in my career that the more connections one makes, the more opportunities present themselves. Public service (especially at CDC) is an area in which employees are encouraged to continuously develop professionally. Therefore, creating a wide-reaching professional network opens many doors, simply by establishing relationships with others.

At my agency, I advise participating in meetings scheduled by your immediate group of colleagues (supervisor, team leader, and branch chief), Division, Center, or Agency; employee organizations and associations (there are over 30); workgroups (there are 12); and/or other advisory groups, boards, committees, and councils (there are over 10). Get involved and put yourself out there!

Ultimately, it is entirely what you make of it: if you do not make the effort to develop professionally, your experience will not be as beneficial as it could be. With the right experience and research, you can change your life–and help others at the same time!

Robert Merritt is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, Emory University, and The University of the South (Sewanee) where he received academic training in sociology & anthropology, medical sociology, public health, and research methods & statistics.  His research career has spanned over 30 years with positions at the Smithsonian Institution (SI), Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  He is currently working as a health scientist in the Division for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) at CDC. 

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The Art of Negotiation

Category : PROspective

Whether you’re looking for a paid APE or are applying for jobs after graduation, knowing how to negotiate pay and benefits is a skill we all need. It’s important for us to know our worth and have the confidence to ask for it. But putting yourself in a position to be rejected can feel risky, especially if you have no safety net. If this is your first time dealing with negotiations it can be intimidating. Here are some tips that may help you navigate this tricky business:

  1. Research salary trends in your field. Knowing how much other people are getting paid for your experience can give you something to compare your offer to.
  2. Know who you’re negotiating with. Someone from HR might better know the constraints of what they’re able to offer you. our future boss might be more willing to go to bat for your requests because they’ll be most directly affected by hiring you.
  3. Give them a reason to offer more. If you have certain skills which you believe makes you a more competitive candidate, don’t be shy about them. Lay out exactly why you’re worth what you’re asking.
  4. Be likable. This should go without saying, but if the people hiring you like you, they’ll be more likely to fight for you. It can be difficult to remain likable while you’re negotiating, which is why it’s important to be careful about the way you communicate. Always be polite and respectful, no matter who you’re dealing with.
  5. It’s not all about money. In some cases, a job can’t offer you the amount you’re requesting. But that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. There are other aspects of the job that might make it worth it to you. If you can’t negotiate higher pay, maybe you can ask for other benefits such as more vacation days, hours, different responsibilities, or other perks. Don’t forget to find out about opportunities for growth and promotions. Just because they can’t offer more money now, doesn’t mean there won’t be that opportunity down the line.

While it can be stressful to enter negotiations with a potential employer, remember that the worst they can say to you is no! Turning down a request for more money, more vacation days, or a hybrid work style doesn’t mean they don’t still want you. It’s up to you to decide how important your requests are. We may not all have the luxury of waiting for our “dream job,” but if you feel strongly about what you’re not getting, it’s okay to turn the offer down. More likely than not, you’re going to be the only one advocating for yourself, don’t be afraid to go after what you want! If you’re having trouble figuring out how to approach this situation, remember you can always reach out to the Office of Career Development for advice, as a current student or alumni.

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Making the Most of Your APE

Category : PROspective

Many students are likely just starting to dig into their APEs, but starting a new position can oftentimes feel confusing and directionless at first. If you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing at all times, rest assured you’re not alone. While 200 hours can feel like a relatively short amount of time to figure everything out in time to actually accomplish something substantial, there’s so much more to get out of this experience besides your deliverables. Here are a few tips to make the most of your APE!

  1. Get to know your colleagues. Whether it be fellow students, your PI, or staff at the organization you’re working at, these could be your future bosses and coworkers. Take some time to introduce yourself to everyone you might be working with. Regardless of if you work for this organization long term, the better your colleagues get to know you the more likely they may be to write you a letter of recommendation or pass along your resume to their peers.
  2. Keep busy. Its easy to enjoy the slow pace that may come at the beginning of a job or between projects, but you don’t want to be caught off guard when your supervisor asks what you’ve been doing recently. If you have nothing to work on, make sure your boss knows it. You can also try reaching out to your colleagues and asking if they need help on any projects they may be working on. If you still find yourself with nothing to do, use that time to teach yourself something new, like new SAS code, or read up on the field you’re working in. Showing this kind of initiative is sure to benefit you in the long run!
  3. Reflect on your experience. Chances are you pick up some new skills to add on your resume during your APE. Taking the time to think about what you’ve learned, maybe by listing out your skills or journaling about your daily activities, will help you in the future when you need to articulate what you did in a cover letter or are asked to explain in a job interview. Keeping notes like these throughout your APE experience can be helpful as well in order to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you still need to work on.

Whether you’re almost finished with your APE already or are still looking for your practicum experience these tips are useful to keep in mind. Your APE is a great way to dip your toes into what your future job as an epidemiologist could look like. Love it or hate, you’re learning something that you didn’t know before.

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This post was originally published in June 2022.

Don’t Go It Alone

Category : PROspective

Looking both outside (budding flowers and rain showers) and at my inbox (thesis analysis challenges and graduation reminders), it’s clear that spring is here! It’s the time of semester when classes, capstones, and theses are all starting to wrap-up. While the dates on the calendar are clear, the path to the finish line might remain a little blurry.

As you approach the final stretch of Spring 2023, I encourage you to take some time to check-in with your classmates and lean on each other. Everyone has their own struggles, and it can often be helpful to share them with someone going through a similar journey. Here’s a quote from the PROspective archives that I hope will help you in this final stretch:

Don’t compare your “behind the scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reel”. I don’t remember where I first heard this phrase, but it really resonates with me. Until we all get comfortable sharing our setbacks, we have to realize that we mostly only see the very best of what happens to those around us. Remember that you only have a sneak peek into someone else’s life, and you are likely unaware of many of the setbacks that they face.

You are studying alongside outstanding students who have and will continue to change public health for years to come – and you belong here. It can be easy to compare your progress to someone else’s and feel like you’re falling short of where you “should” be. By checking in with each other, you can help break the habit of making biased comparisons to your colleagues.

While your challenges may be different, you may be able to provide insight that can only come from someone who is not so intimately wrapped up in the details of a particular project. Maybe what you need is someone to help you find that one spot in the EPI 550 notes that holds the key to your coding troubles. Meanwhile, your classmate could use a fresh perspective on how to best structure this one section of their final report that isn’t coming out quite right. These exchanges can help you refocus and set you back on the right path.

You may feel like you just need to put your head down and keep plugging away until the semester ends. Perhaps there are some of you for whom this really is the best strategy. For those who feel like that would be counterproductive, please take this as your sign to pause – connect with your classmates – and know that it will all come to a close in due time.

Of course, if you need additional support, please reach out to me and/or your ADAP and we will get you connected with the right resources.

This post was originally published in April 2022.

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How to Reach out to Faculty for Potential Career Opportunities

Category : PROspective

It’s that time of the year again when everyone is thinking about their summer plans and goals for next semester. You hear your classmates telling you about their fantastic summer research plans and the work they are doing that makes it seem like they are miles ahead of you, and you may be thinking that everyone has their lives together except for you. Sometimes you just don’t know where to start, and that first step toward action is always the hardest. Here at Rollins, there are countless professors who want to help you, so here are a few quick tips on how to reach out to your professors for career advice, potential research opportunities, or more. 

Use your resources. If you don’t yet know what you might be interested in working on in the future, there are so many resources to help you. You can schedule a meeting with your faculty advisor or an ADAP to talk about your experience and career interests, and they will point you in the right direction. They are here to help you, so there is no need to be scared to reach out to them for help or advice. 

Ask around. If you have an idea of the field you might want to work in, but don’t know any faculty to reach out to, ask your friends and classmates if they have any helpful information! Our student body here has such a diverse range of interests that you may be able to use your connections with your peers to find interesting projects to work on. They may have taken a class with a professor in that field or have worked on a similar research project in the past. They can connect you with other people with similar interests.

Do your research. There are so many research centers here at Rollins or otherwise connected to Emory. Make a list of topics you are interested in, and thoroughly research all the related organizations or departments within Emory or closely connected to the University. You will find many faculty members to reach out to, and you can read about ongoing, past, or future research you might want to learn more about. 

Compose a thoughtful email. Finally, you can use all of this information to reach out to faculty you might be interested in working with. Not all professors will be actively doing research or looking for assistance, but you will always be better off reaching out to them if you are interested in their work or career. You could make an important connection or be referred to another professor doing similar work. You may be surprised with the opportunities you come across this way. Read this article for tips on how to compose your initial email!

Finding an APE or Summer Opportunity

Category : PROspective

Spring always meant new beginnings and transformations, with flowers blooming. However, it also meant that rain would sometimes come around and ruin my day. During my first year at Rollins with new classes, the ADAPs throwing around the new acronym APE more often, it made me so nervous, as I didn’t know where to start. This was especially true, given the fact that I was coming into public health without a Bachelor’s in Public Health or much experience doing what I thought made public health. I didn’t have a clear idea where to start, but I can always help others find their APE/Summer Opportunity. 

1. Get your resume or CV in order. 

You need to have it together. This is the way that you communicate what you’ve done, who you are, and the skills you have to others. Your resume gives you a place to consolidate all of that information. Every opportunity requires something different: some want your resume, others require you fill in an online form, and a small minority don’t even ask for it. Your resume is a snapshot of who you are. From personal experience, not every resume will look the same. When I’m applying to an opportunity that requires me to be well-rounded versus one that requires me to showcase my ability to work in a lab, my resume won’t look the same.   

Know the difference between what a resume and a CV are. Your resume will probably be no more than 1 to 2 pages. Your CV will sometimes be triple that. Both require concrete details, but they’ll be used for different purposes. Both are used to secure interviews, but a resume is used in most non-federal/government or academic positions, but a CV can be used for fellowships/grants, research positions, etc. 

Also, sometimes having a cover letter can help. Cover letters help convey why you’re a great candidate for a role, but they also help to give a personalized explanation to your new employers. Even if an application says, “cover letter optional”, it doesn’t hurt to introduce people to your attitude, motivations and values. Cover letters, CVs, and resumes can all be worked on with the Office of Career Development, filled with great people who want you to find something you want just as much as you do yourself.  

2. Reach out to professors. Let them know what you’re looking for. 

Honestly, we underutilize our professors a lot of the time. I and many of my friends have had opportunities that have been connected to our professors. Sometimes, it feels like they don’t have the time, but they want to all help teach the next generation of public health professionals. You wanted to come to RSPH to be taught by great professors who have connections to places both within Emory and outside of it. The worst that they can ever tell you is no. (They could also potentially help you craft an opportunity just for you.) But in my experience, the worst I’ve gotten are constructive nos.  

A ”constructive no” is what I like to call a subset of constructive criticism. It is when a professor tells you no not because they don’t have an opportunity for you, but because they know that they aren’t the right fit for you. Part of being in academia is connecting with other faculty and professionals. And the biggest service that they can do for you is not waste your time. You’d be more upset doing something that doesn’t fulfil you and waste your time than finishing your APE/Summer Opportunity. 

3. Go online! Google, 12twenty, the Confounder, LinkedIn and more can be so helpful. 

Simply searching the words “public health internship” can present you with tons of opportunities. Your network won’t always know all the opportunities that can help you. Sometimes, new programs can start that they hadn’t heard about. For example, you can be part of the inaugural cohort of a new summer fellowship that no one else has ever done. You can find an internship with a small consulting company that is willing to have you be part time during your second year. Why limit yourself to a small pool of opportunities when you can increase it? 

Going online allows you to filter out opportunities that aren’t what you need or that you can’t do. If you hear about something in California from a professor but you’re aiming to stay in Atlanta for the summer, it can be disheartening. However, you can take key words from that opportunity and use it to find something else that does fill your needs. 

 4. Not everything is for everyone. Being patient is key. 

There’s nothing wrong with saying no. Part of being an adult is to say no to things, doing it in a professional way that doesn’t end a relationship. You may say no because you had a lot of responses, and you could only do one. You may say no because you won’t get the opportunity that you want from something. 

 I have said no to opportunities that I realized weren’t for me. I have said no to things that I thought wouldn’t provide me with an opportunity to learn what I wanted to in public health. We have such limited time in school that we need to make the most of every chance that we get. Potentially wasting it on something that you may dislike the entire time isn’t worth it. 

You don’t want to just fulfill your APE requirement. You’re in public health to make a difference, and you want to ensure that your graduate education allows you to do something meaningful. To do that, you need to think about why am I in public health? What do I want to do in my career in public health? 

You also need to be patient. Some opportunities won’t come in that window that you want. Others will come in a whirlwind of two days. Some won’t happen over the summer, like you wanted. You may get an opportunity that can only happen during the school year. Making sure that your APE fulfills that “why” and “what” for you is going to make that time so much more valuable. It’ll also be a great thing to talk about after your time at Rollins. 

7 Movies and TV shows Epidemiologists Should Watch

Category : PROspective

Written by: Nafis Khan and Veronika Laird

This post was originally published on January 30, 2022, and is being republished in January 2023.

If you’re like me, when winter hits you know the best place to be is inside. It gets dark earlier, everything is kind of dreary, plus all you want to do is take a nap. Some of my go to remedies for wintertime blues are tasty soup recipes, reading books (Re: 8 Books Every Epidemiologist Should Read), and watching TV. The cool thing about TV shows and movies is there are so many of them, and with the pandemic (and the emergence of omicron) there is so much time to find new ones. Now personally, I would rather catch up on the latest Netflix series than watch another zoom lecture. I may feel bad in the moment but there are tons of great shows and movies centered around public health to help me rationalize that decision. While some may be a bit more educational than others, I always like to tell myself that these programs depict the real world application of what I would be learning about anyways (Right??). Here are some cool shows and movies that I have stumbled across:

Andromeda Strain

  • After a U.S. military satellite lands in a rural town in Arizona, a deadly contagion kills everyone except two survivors. It soon begins spreading across the country as the military begins to quarantine the area while a small, secured team of highly specialized scientists are assembled. Their task is to find a cure and intervention for the pathogen named “Andromeda”. This initially was a book written by Michael Crichton, who is also the author of Jurassic Park, and became adapted into a limited TV series that was nominated for 7 Primetime Emmys.


    • A classic movie that got a lot of attention when the pandemic first began. It centers on a woman returning home from a business trip in Hong Kong only to pass away two days later back home in Minnesota. Shortly after, many others start to show the same symptoms and it quickly becomes a pandemic. While this film highlights the roles of epidemiologists, including EIS officers, virologists, and other scientists, it also considers the role of the media and misinformation. This movie is believed to be one of the more accurate infectious disease movies available to viewers.

Rise of Planet of the Apes

    • While some may not consider this a movie that highlights infectious diseases, it focuses on the animal-human interface and the importance of that relationship. A business has been testing their potential Alzheimer’s cure on various primates in their lab. After developing a gaseous version of a drug that is supposed to help with Alzheimer’s disease, a member of the company becomes sick and sneezes blood onto another colleague. It quickly spreads around the globe leading to a pandemic. (SPOILER ALERT) It isn’t until the second movie that we discover the biological origins of the drug and that it was derived from primates; making it a zoonotic disease.

World War Z

    • Following the outbreak of a mysterious and highly infectious disease, Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane travels the world to identify the origins and a cure to this disease. What quickly becomes apparent to Lane is that this disease transforms those it infects into a zombie-like creature. While this movie may be a bit more intense than the traditional EIS officer deployment, it does show topics of disease transmission, public health policy, and the collaborative efforts on which epidemiologic work is built on. It also highlights the creativity sometimes needed when investigating an outbreak.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

    • A docu-series that may be too on the nose to watch during an actual pandemic, Pandemic covers a range of topics such as a potential influenza pandemic, vaccine research, and threats of emerging viruses. Released just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the documentary follows doctors, other healthcare professionals, and anti-vaxxers for their insight into human health and the ecological effects of society.

Erin Brockovich

    • Based on a true story, the movie follows Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) on an investigation into the misconduct of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that led to the carcinogenic groundwater contamination of Hinkley, CA. The movie depicts the litigious applications of an epidemiologic study. Showing how study data can be used to enact change, this movie captures the real world impact of epidemiology. Understanding the applications and effects of epidemiologic principles is important to know why a study or investigation is necessary.

Hopefully some of these movies or TV shows caught your eye. Even if you are stressing over exams, APEs, theses/capstone, etc. it is important to take some time to yourself and unwind. While these options offer insight into public health practice, there are tons of other options that are just as great. If we missed any, comment your favorite public health movies or shows.


Veronika is a Second-Year MPH student in the Global Epidemiology Program interested in researching zoonotic diseases. She studied integrative biology with a minor in chemistry and global health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in their honors program.

Nafis is a 2nd Year Epidemiology MPH student. He is from Morrisville, PA and got his B.S in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Penn State University in 2018. When not in class you can catch Nafis hiking around Northern Georgia or finding other ways to stay active.

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Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions this Semester

Category : PROspective

Welcome back to Rollins for the new year and new semester! We hope you have had some time to relax and take a step back from schoolwork for a few weeks. As the new year begins, you have probably set out on many new personal, professional, and academic aspirations and resolutions for yourselves. Self-improvement is always good, but can be very challenging. Here are some tips on creating healthy long-term change this semester that you can follow through on.

  1. Understand the behavior you want to change and why you stick to your old habits. If you are trying to stop procrastinating this semester, think personally about why it is that you do this. Is it because you work well under a time limit? Could it be because you forget about major tasks until someone else reminds you? Is it because you are a perfectionist and won’t start on a task that you don’t believe you will be able to do perfectly? Is it because you have a poorly planned personal schedule and have little free time to get ahead of your work? All of these problems have different roots, and will need to be addressed by different solutions. These solutions could include getting a planner, working with a study group, having an accountability partner, or countless other actions, but you need to do some self-reflection first to determine which one will work for you.
  2. Set ambitious goals and break the down into small steps. You might be averse to setting big goals that seem unrealistic to you. Many people discourage these big dreams because they think that they have to accomplish them all at once. Start by making small progress toward your goal, and you will often be able to reach it after creating these habits over time. Here is some advice from Harvard Health: 
    1. “Just getting to first base can build your confidence to tackle — and succeed at — more difficult tasks. Don’t disdain easy choices. If you start every plan with ‘Make list,’ you’re guaranteed to check one box off quickly. That’s no joke: a study on loyalty programs that aim to motivate consumers found giving people two free punches on a frequent-buyer card encouraged repeat business. So break hard jobs down into smaller line items, and enjoy breezing through the easy tasks first.”
  3. Keep track of your progress. Keep a journal or a whiteboard and record all your progress toward the goals you set this semester! Creating this visual aid will keep you on track and make it harder to forget about your goals or disregard them after just a few days or weeks. 
  4. Reward yourself. Don’t wait until you have accomplished some big task to let yourself feel accomplished. Your goal behaviors are incremental, and you should celebrate every step you make toward positive change. This will keep you motivated, excited, and proud of yourself. 

Reflecting on Your Goals for This Semester

Category : PROspective

At the very beginning of this semester, Emory’s Office of Health Promotion shared some advice with us regarding habits to develop in order to have the most successful semester possible. Now that our time on campus this semester is coming to an end and we are nearing finals, it is time to reflect on our personal progress. Did you accomplish the goals you intended to accomplish this year? Have your study habits been working for you, or are there ways you can improve? There is still time to become aware of any room that you have for improvement and end your semester on a positive note. Return to this article from a few months ago as finals begin.

Written by Kaylan Ware

After being away from your studies for the summer, it can be difficult to reestablish a routine that works for you. Incorporating daily practices that boost your mood and productivity early in the semester can increase your chances of developing good habits. Start by considering what’s important to you this school year, then try using these strategies to improve your productivity, balance, and well-being.

  1. Set intentions. Identify your values and goals this year. This does not have to be school related. Let’s say you want to learn a new skill or spend more time with friends. Decide on actionable steps to attain your intentions and reinforce your intentions daily by reflecting on them. It helps to write your intentions down and place them somewhere you’re likely to look.

Here’s an example of an intention: “This school year, I want to engage in at least three co- curricular activities.”

  1. Set daily goals. Either in the morning or the night before, reflect on all you want to get done in your day. Make a list and check items off as you complete them. Include smaller tasks like washing clothes and larger, more time-consuming tasks like finishing a presentation for class. This helps you maintain a realistic schedule for your day, giving you an idea of the amount of time you will dedicate to certain tasks and how much free time you may have.
  2. Make sleep a priority. A poor sleep schedule can affect your mood, ability to cope with stress, your ability to concentrate and more. To begin prioritizing sleep, it would help to establish a regular sleep schedule and create a bedtime routine. Consider what your busiest day looks like and think about how many hours of sleep you’d like to get. Aim for 7-9 hours if possible. Having a bedtime routine may include showering, reading a book or meditating. Your routine can help relax your body and mind before bed. Be sure to limit screen time, too!
  3. Practice mindfulness. There are so many ways to practice mindfulness. Deep breathing, yoga, coloring, and journaling are all activities where mindful strategies are present. Mindfulness activities can help increase emotional awareness and decrease stress and anxiety. Add mindful moments throughout your week by focusing on your breath, observing your thoughts, listening actively, and observing your surroundings using all five senses.
  4. Take a break. It can be overwhelming to consider pausing when you have assignments piling up and due dates approaching, but it is important to utilize breaks to rest and take care of yourself to enhance focus and performance. Build breaks into your schedule to rest and reset so you can tackle your next tasks reenergized. If you need help deciding what to do during a 30-second break or even an hour-long break, visit Campus Life’s Take a Break webpage for inspiration and resources.

Remember to be intentional about incorporating these strategies and practices into your everyday life. Sometimes it can be difficult to stick with an activity long enough to make it a habit. Try finding an accountability partner – a friend, classmate, or mentor – that will check-in and help motivate you to achieve your goals.

Also, check out the Office of Health Promotion’s Instagram page (@EmoryOHP) for wellness tips and programs!

Kaylan Ware is a 2nd year Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences student at Rollins with interests in health communication, health equity, and chronic disease prevention. She works as the Health Communications Graduate Assistant in Emory’s Office of Health Promotion.

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Thanksgiving

Category : PROspective

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time of year for everyone. Whether you are hosting your first Thanksgiving, coordinating travel plans, interacting with difficult family members, or staying in Atlanta and missing your family, everyone is facing a unique situation this week. Here are some tips to enjoy a safe and healthy Thanksgiving this year no matter where you are.

  1. Be public health conscious as you travel. If you are flying this week, make sure to wear a mask at the airport and on your flights, and socially distance where possible! Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face or any possibly contaminated objects. Bring hand sanitizer to use throughout the airport where washing your hands is not an option. This is a busy time for travel, especially at the Atlanta airport, and it is our public health duty to do our part in keeping everyone healthy. Now is the time to get your COVID-19 booster and flu shots if you have not already done so! You can schedule both of these through Emory Student Health Services.
  2. Try to keep your gatherings as COVID and flu – friendly as possible. Consider adapting your Thanksgiving gathering plans to accommodate for your most vulnerable family members or friends who may be attending. This could mean hosting an outdoor gathering, bringing your own utensils/plates/etc, or setting health and safety expectations with guests ahead of time. Read more tips from the Georgia Department of Health here
  3. Volunteer in your community. Another way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to volunteer in various ways in the community. If you are staying in Atlanta and are unsure of what your plans might be this year, consider spending your time with one of the dozens of organizations looking for volunteers this week! You can find many of these opportunities here.
  4. Have difficult conversations. Public health and epidemiology have become increasingly common topics in the news over the past few years. You may have family members who are suddenly experts in COVID conspiracy theories or share other absurd health-related opinions. Do your best to stay patient when these topics are brought up, and try to understand where their opinions come from. As public health students, this will not be the last time we will have to have these frustrating conversations in our lives, so it is best to be patient and get used to conversations like these. Address any misinformation they have and provide scientific evidence to support your statements. You can find more tips for navigating these difficult conversations here.