To me, public health is a field of medicine whose main objectives are not only to prevent disease while promoting health through various methods of treatment and education, but also to identify and understand the specific health needs of a population, to value those needs, and to work to fulfill them.
I was first inspired by public health when I was in dental hygiene school. I rotated through various dental mobile vans and health department dental clinics and was exposed to a population of patients who needed my services more than those I had seen in a private practice office. These experiences inspired me to study the field of public health and pursue a career in dental public health. It is in this field that I find my work to be most appreciated and, in turn, most rewarding.
Time spent extending dental health services to dentally-underserved individuals living on Native American Reservations in Montana and New Mexico would most definitely qualify as the most rewarding experiences of my career thus far. I witnessed first-hand, the incredible need for dental care that this population faces. After the work I had done, I felt like I truly made a difference and provided a service they otherwise would not have received. It was incredible to see such dental disparity in our own country. I am thankful for the field of Public Health, for it increases the possibility for healthcare to be attained by all.
Social and Behavioral Sciences deals heavily with the social norms, health behaviors, and the views and perspectives of individuals and populations. I am quickly learning that it can be very difficult to change or modify these components. One piece of advice I wish I was given is that in order for change to occur, a great amount of patience must be endured.
Given my profession, I am inclined to say that a big challenge in public health is fulfilling the great needs for dental care across populations.