Public Health & Health Sciences Blog

Jennifer Okungbowa- Ikponmwosa, a Master of Public Health graduate with a concentration in Healthcare Administration at the University of Michigan- Flint and a second year medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, recently won a the prize for Best Oral Presentation at the 2017 Medical Equity’s Health Equity Research Conference.  The goal of the conference was to promote health equity in urban settings with the principle that everyone is able to attain their maximum health potential.  The conference was held on the campus of Wayne State University on February 18th, 2017.

Jennifer presented in the oral presentation category alongside graduate students and medical students from various universities across Michigan. She presented her research from her master’s degree capstone in response to the Flint water crisis. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Director the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center, who helped uncover the Flint Water Crisis, attended Jennifer’s presentation.

In the research, Jennifer assessed if women of reproductive age were knowledgeable about the effects of water lead contamination on pregnancy. She also examined women’s knowledge on how to reduce exposure to lead contaminated water and alleviate the effects of exposure. “One reason we completed this research is that 50% of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  Women can be unknowingly exposing themselves and their unborn child to lead-contaminated water,” said Jennifer.  Dr. Gergana Kodjebacheva and Dr. Lisa Lapeyrouse, Assistant Professors in the Department of Public Health & Health Sciences, were Jennifer’s capstone advisors. “Drinking lead contaminated water during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight and infant mortality,” said Dr. Kodjebacheva.  “Through the research Jennifer found that most women living inside and outside of Flint who participated in the study had limited knowledge about the effects of lead and how to prevent lead exposure during pregnancy. She recommends several strategies to prevent drinking lead-contaminated water,” said Dr. Kodjebacheva

“I hope to integrate what I have learned in Masters in Public with the way I practice medicine,” said Jennifer, “by working to decrease health disparities in patients within the community that I will serve. I hope to help increase access to healthcare by advocating on behalf of patients in underserved populations through organizations such as the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association. I hope to build a rapport with local leaders within the community that I am serving in order to better understand how I can effectively serve them.”

The capstone project also included a policy piece. “The political piece of my capstone will be presented in Washington, DC during SNMA’s Lobby Day. We will be using some of the things that I have learned through my research to help influence members of Congress,” said Jennifer Okungbowa- Ikponmwosa.  Jennifer was one of two medical students across the United States chosen to be a Student National Medical Association Health Policy and Legislative Affairs Fellow for the 2016-2017 term.