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Profiles in Public Health

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Joshua Sznol

Graduate student

MSPH, Biostatistics and Informatics, Health Policy and Management

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

To me, public health is the intersection and culmination of cooperation between several fields with the goal of improving health.

What inspired you to study to public health?

When I was working in basic science on cancer biology of melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and breast cancer, I was struck by the patients in our studies and number of young adults dying of these fatal diseases. I was inspired to study public health because of the emphasis on understanding an individual’s environment in determining disease.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

Coming from a sterile, white walled, fluorescent lab, the most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to interact with local communities through health fairs around the Miller School of Medicine and help begin to change the lives of community members. The graciousness of the communities has inspired me to continue with public health wherever my career goes.

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

Get involved in everything that you can. The things you will learn and the people you meet will change your life.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Communication. I believe the backlash against vaccines and other public health achievements and cuts in funding are indicative that, as a community, we have not advocated for our work or translated its importance to the communities that we serve.

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