New Employment Information Feature

As part of our ongoing mission at Public Health and Health Sciences to best serve our incredible network of students and alumni, we continue to make changes each and every day to improve our networking and increase our visibility within the community.  One of the most important things that PHHS can do is to promote any available employment postings that are referred to us or that match the vast skill set of our graduates.  Starting today, you will notice an added feature on our department home page which will showcase up to the date employment listings that we have received.

Our home page can be reached at, and the Employment Information can be found under the PHHS Home menu on the lefthand side.  Our first post this week is from Grand Traverse County where they have recently posted an opening for a Health Program Supervisor.  Please check out this posting today, and as always, we will add new content as we receive it!

The PHHS team works best with suggestions from our community of staff, students, alumni and community partners, so please feel free to help us better our understanding of any needs by messaging our Marketing and Alumni Coordinator Matt Bueby at

PHHS faculty member and student featured this week!

PHHS student Tina Sabo, as well as PHHS Assistant Professor Dr. Gergana Kodjebacheva, are featured on the front page of the University of Michigan-Flint website for their work in a study on playground accessibility! Check it out here today!

In addition to the feature within the university network, the pair have also received regional recognition while appearing on earlier this week.  If you see either Tina or Dr. Kodjebacheva, please congratulate them for their outstanding efforts and achievements!

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Helpful Career Information!

Looking for helpful career information? Be sure and remember to explore each undergraduate degree for a useful list of resources pertaining to Professional Organizations as well as information relating to career interests! New information will be added as we find it, including our latest link to PublicHealthOnline.

These links and more can be found from the Public Health and Health Sciences homepage at and by clicking on the undergraduate degree column within the lefthand menu.  From there, click on the tabs for any degree to learn more and then “explore” the resources!

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Population Health: Past, Present, & Future



On April 10, 2014, the University of Michigan’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program presented the symposium, Population Health: Past, Present, & Future.

This symposium featured more than 20 national and international experts reflecting critically on the meaning of population health, its accomplishments over the past 10 years, and challenges and opportunities moving forward.

Videos from the event are available for viewing below!

Welcome and Introduction

Session I

Session II

Session III

Alumni Panel

Session IV

Session V

Wrap Up and Closing


M.S. in Health Education student to present poster at MICHR Symposium

Watson and Suzuki (2014) MICHRKirahn Watson, graduate health education student, will present her research poster, “Development of a theory based video to increase CPAP compliance,” this Wednesday at the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR)’s annual symposium in Ann Arbor. This capstone project sought to develop a video using the social cognitive theory for patients newly diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Watson co-authored the research project with her advisor, Rie Suzuki, Ph.D.

View Watson’s research poster here.

Learn more about the MICHR’s 2014 OPIS Symposium: “Partnerships for patient-centered outcomes research” here.


Alumni Spotlight: Trisha Aldrich and Eric Nelson, B.S. in Radiation Therapy class of 2013

untitled-10Erin NelsonAldrich and Nelson are both currently employed as Radiation Therapists at the University of Michigan Radiation Oncology Department. Radiation therapists are responsible for carrying out cancer targeting treatment plans created by radiation oncologists. The department treats 20 to 30 patients each day with radiation producing machines called linear accelerators. Positioning the patients for treatment and verifying that they are treating the correct area is the most important part of their job. This is done with a variety of immobilization devices, daily x-rays, and motion tracking systems. Aldrich and Nelson took time from their busy professional schedules to tell us about their experience so far in the field.

Describe a typical day on the job.

Aldrich: At the University there are 5 machines treating patients. We figure out what machine we are assigned to everyday because assignments can change. Once we get to the machine we overlook the whole day and figure out which patients were treated on different machines and if they need any immobilization devices to treat them. If they do we gather them in between treating patients as the day goes on. We also make sure we have everything we need if we have a new start. A typical treatment for a patient starts with us setting up the room with everything that particular patient needs for treatment. This includes verifying the prescription and if the treatment plan pulls up correctly. Once everything is set up and the script looks good we get the patient and begin the process of setting them up for their own individualized treatment. There are many different things that you have to pay attention to in order to know that the patient is going to get the best treatment.

What are the highlights of your job?

Nelson: Interacting with patients is the best part about being a radiation therapist. Each patient takes an average of 30 minutes for their daily treatment and is treated every day for 2-4 weeks. Because of this, we develop relationships with the patients. Many interesting stories are shared and bonds built. Patients put their trust in your hands during a very difficult point in life.

Aldrich: Getting to know the patients and know that you are helping them in a difficult time in their life. Once they get through it and come back for the follow up they come see you and say “hi” and let you know how they are doing after the treatment. You know you have made a great impact on their life.

What are the challenges of your job?

Aldrich: The University is very diverse and you work with many different people and have to learn their personalities and how they work. In order to have great team work you have to be able to roll with variations and still ensure the patient is getting consistent treatment.

Nelson: Being a radiation therapist requires a lot of concentration and personality. Your ability to make split second decisions and weigh many different factors is what can make or break you in this field. You will come across many different types of patients, young and old. Some will be very sick, some will appear to be fine. Some patients will be angry, some will laugh, some will cry, and some will not say but a few mumbles. Treating patients extends outside of the medicine you give them or the treatments you apply. People require emotional and psychological support when struck with traumatic life experiences, and having cancer is certainly no walk in the park.

What advice would you give to future Radiation Therapists?

Nelson: Be ready to work hard. Radiation therapy has become a competitive field. The radiation therapy program requires a lot of time and energy. As a student, there were weeks that I spent 70 hours in the hospital. Do not let these thoughts scare you away though. I have been blessed with the greatest job in the world and truly love what I do. The hard work pays off. When a patient comes back for a follow up appointment and tells you that he/she is cancer free, you will never forget it.

Aldrich: Hard work will pay off in the end, just keep chasing your dream!



Alumni Spotlight: Cameron Waites, B.S. in Health Sciences, ’11

Cam_WEBAfter graduating from UM-Flint in 2011, I began working on a research project at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, studying human allergic inflammation. Whereas my prior experiences in the military had spurred my interest in the role of inflammation in brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, several important life events occurred during my time at the NIH that greatly expanded that interest and added a sense of urgency to it, and also helped define my personal and professional goals in medicine and research. Made possible through funding provided by the Clarendon Scholarship, I was able to pursue these goals at the University of Oxford and completed an MSc in Neuroscience degree there in September of 2013. I then returned to the NIH to study pre-clinical models of mild traumatic injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Through all of this, I know that my education, mentoring, and service experiences as a student at UM-Flint have carried me through. Further as a result, I am fortunate to have been accepted into several medical schools, including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Chicago, New York University and Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, and am now trying to decide which would be the best fit for myself and my family. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone at the Department of Public Health and Health Sciences for helping me achieve my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, a direct result of the UM-Flint difference.

UM-Flint announces new health navigation minor and certificate

Starting in Fall 2014, the University of Michigan-Flint will offer a minor/certificate in health navigation. Health navigation is a new role, emerging from the need to help patients and families understand a complex and changing healthcare system. Working in hospitals, health clinics, human service agencies, and insurance companies, health navigators help clients understand the health system and health insurance, assist clients to access services they need and are eligible for, and educate clients about lifestyle changes to promote overall health. The program is 18-19 credit hours and can be completed in 1-2 years as a minor for current students or as a certificate for non-degree students. Program courses are taught by knowledgeable public health, nursing, and social work faculty and will address the following topics:

  • Medical terminology
  • Case management
  • Health promotion
  • Motivational interviewing
  • The Affordable Care Act and health insurance
  • Health assessment

The program will also include a practicum through which students will gain hands-on experience working under health navigators in the field.

For more information, please visit the School of Health Professions & Studies Web site.

Alumni Spotlight: Jamila Kwarteng, M.S. in Health Education, ’07

jamila 3.12 headshotShortly after graduating from the UM-Flint M.S. in health education program, Jamila Kwarteng entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her study on associations between observed neighborhood characteristics and physical activity was recently published in the Journal of Public Health. Kwarteng generously took time from her busy schedule to tell us about life as a doctoral candidate.

For students who may be considering pursuing doctoral programs, can you tell us more about life as a doctoral candidate?

Life as a doctoral candidate is different from day to day, where some days are busier than others. The busy days can consist of meeting with research projects, guest speakers, or with fellow students; or it can consist of deadlines related to my dissertation. The lighter days usually involve reading the literature and writing for about 6 hours per day.

You were recently published in the Journal of Public Health, please tell us about that project and other research projects you have been involved in as a doctoral candidate. Overall, what are your research interests?

The article we published in the Journal of Public Health grew out of my research with the Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP), a community-based participatory research project focused on reducing disparities in cardiovascular health. The study we published examined whether the relationship between individual characteristics and physical activity varied by observed neighborhood characteristics (i.e. sidewalk condition, physical disorder, street condition). For example, are individuals who live in neighborhoods with sidewalks in better condition more physically activity than does with sidewalks in worse condition; and does this relationship vary by individual characteristics (i.e. age, gender)? We found that better sidewalk condition was associated with increases in physical activity among women and men of varying socioeconomic statuses.

My research interest is in how racial and social inequities contribute to cardiovascular disease. My dissertation focuses specifically on the potential pathways between psychosocial stress and central adiposity.

What advice do you have for students and fellow alumni?

For students and fellow alumni who are interested in pursuing doctoral studies, I would advise them to pursue areas that they are passionate about. Once you are able to find a topic that really interests you, it is much easier to conduct your research. In addition, seek out mentors who can assist you in navigating your path from the masters program to the doctoral program, and through your doctoral studies and beyond. They can guide you through the transition process by providing information on what you can expect from the program, and what your program will expect from you.

Want to tell us your story? Submit it here! 

Health education students become Certified Application Counselors to help community apply for health coverage

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Enrollment Specialist Gia Carroll assists a woman with her application as undergraduate health education students Ken Overbaugh and Stephanie Suminski observe.

Students in Dr. Shan Parker’s undergraduate Strategies in Health Education course have trained to become Certified Application Counselors (CAC’s) to assist members of the community in applying for health coverage. Dr. Parker worked with Hamilton Community Health Network, Inc., a local non-profit, to get students trained and ready to go out into the community as CAC’s. Marcie Roberts, M.S. in health education student and outreach enrollment specialist at Hamilton, coordinated and trained the class. The students have already observed and volunteered at five enrollment drives, and will continue their enrollment work throughout the coming weeks. With the open enrollment period looming, Hamilton and other community organizations are anxious to help people get the coverage they need.

Stephanie Suminski distributes educational literature.

Stephanie Suminski distributes educational literature.

Ken Overbaugh, a senior in the health education program, gave his perspective on the experience of becoming and working as a CAC.

Overall, the application is a simple process. One issue, which is where CAC’s play an important role, is health literacy. The health literacy level of some of the questions on the application may be above the health literacy level of the clients we serve. It is very important for the CAC to determine the health literacy level of the person they are serving, and adjust their approach to that level. We have this tremendous opportunity as health education students to help serve our local community in getting health coverage. However, if we can’t explain it to them, how can we sell it to them?”

Ken Overbaugh gives his reasons for getting healthcare coverage under ACA.

Ken Overbaugh gives his reasons for getting healthcare coverage under ACA.

Hamilton is hosting several enrollment events this month, at which the new CAC’s will be observing and working. Upcoming events include:

Saturday, March 15
International Academy of Flint | 2820 S. Saginaw St.
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Saturday, March 22
International Academy of Flint | 2820 S. Saginaw St.
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.