An Interview With Myself

Wow!  It has been a minute since I blogged here.   I had to stop writing to focus on school.  Well, the good news is that I graduated in Dec. 2015.  So, I met my goal of not allowing anything make me drop out of school.    I was tempted several times to quit but, as they say, a weakness (a.k.a stubbornness) can be a strength.

So, was it worth it?

I will like to believe that it was.  I had an interest which I had been pursuing on my own for years and now, I have the degree to back it up.  I took the risk, and even though I will be paying for that risk for some years to come, I do not regret it. That risk brought me to Texas.

 

Was your school a good school?

Yes.  It is a good school.  I am very grateful for the scholarship that I received which enabled me accomplish my goal.

Beyond the Educational bits, what else did I learn from grad. school?

So many things, namely:

a) Grad. schools are different.  This was my second sojourn into the world of graduate schools and my first experience was actually nice even though I worked full-time and received some financial support from my organization but there was a greater symbiotic relationship between profs. and students.   My second experience was not as ‘symbiotic’.

b)  Grad schools are influenced by their environments: In New York, where I completed my first graduate program,  there was a level of freedom that I had to ask questions.   In Texas, before you ask your question, you need to wrap it up in pretty paper, place a bow on it, lower your voice, pretend to be meek and then ask.  I did not feel as free in school.  Of course, I had some profs. that were exceptional who wanted us to ask questions and be engaged in class.  These profs. focused on their subject matter.  A couple come to mind.

c) To survive the educational system in Texas (my experience at one school), you need to be psychologically prepared and resilient. There will be times, that you will feel that [the system/some profs.] might be going  out of their way to break you (psychologically, physically and emotionally).  Just be prepared.

d)Favoritism might be the order of the day.  I will just leave this here.

e) There will always be a silver lining.  I had some great profs. who came to class and focused on the subject matter.  No attacks; no, I want to see if I can overwhelm you; just pure subject matter interspersed with stories of their lives.  I will always be grateful  to them because  they helped me maintain my sanity.

 

How did I survive?

a) Stubbornness and persistence.  There were several reasons that made me choose to leave the East Coast.  One was to have a fresh start and the second was to acquire an education in an area of interest.  I was sticking to that goal.  I refused to be a statistic.

b) Avoidance:  I ignored a lot of things and when I knew that I couldn’t ignore any more, I avoided.  There were some classes that I spent more time studying on my own than in the classroom because I felt that the classroom situation was just too distracting.

c) Learn on your own.  There are many tools/tutors online that can get you through a class, particularly a distracting class.

 

What Next?

Well, I am still looking for a masters level opportunity that will provide an opportunity to utilize my educational backgrounds.  But, if I can’t find that for whatever reason, then on to the next.  I will not be returning to the East Coast.

 

Do I regret moving to Texas?

No, I do not.  Texas taught me or is still teaching me that I am tougher than I think.  Surprisingly, I like this very weird state.

Anymore  schooling in my future?

I come from a family (extended and nuclear) of highly educated professionals.  So, if I am not learning anything new via my workplace, then do not be surprised to find me back at school (either online, evenings or over the weekend).

 

PhD, maybe?

If I find an interesting subject matter that brings it all together, I just might.  My mother has one, so why not?  But,  it will not be this year.

 

Any advice?

Keep learning.   You are strong.  Go outside your comfort zone.  Always, have a way to relax.  Pray!

 

 

 

I Am Back……..

Hello there! I have been silent for a minute….don’t worry, I will soon blog about my first summer in the T State and what has been going on so far….

As you know,  this blog is primarily about Public Health, so here goes:

This is a link to an interview that I did with Stephanie Okereke many years ago when I used to ‘work’ at a radio station in Harlem, New York. In this interview, she talks about her interest in the issue of child marriages and its effect (health effects). She talks about VVF (vesicovaginal fistula) as well in this interview. (http://pamelastitch.com/entertainment/film/376-life-movies-with-stephanie-okereke.html)

So, I was super excited when a friend of mine told me that she finally produced that movie that she was talking about.
Here is the link to the site: http://www.themoviedry.com/

I have decided not to share my thoughts on marriage and the African female or the African female in the diaspora but if you know my alias, you know that I have been pretty clear about where I stand. So, it is hump Wednesday, I will keep it positive and humping.

 

opusc

The Lipstick Danger

 

Lipstick use started more than 5000 years ago, with several cultures using different dyes, gemstones, substances from fish scales, etc. to paint their lips (Schaffer, 2006).  Lipstick use is now part of most women’s cosmetic arsenal with lipstick having a social, cultural and psychological impact on its wearers and viewers.  As much as women enjoy putting on lipstick, the question becomes how healthy is that lipstick?

Liu et al. investigated this question and conducted a study on this issue.  In the report titled ‘Concentrations and potential health risks of metals in lip products’, they measured lead and other metals in lipsticks in  32 lip products used by Asian women in Oakland, California (Liu, 2013).  This metals ingested regularly when reapplied several times a day, have potential health risks.   Some of these metals were lead, aluminum, chromium, and manganese.  In addition, many lipsticks also contain chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, acetone, acetonitrile, methacrylate, toluene, xylene, ethyl ether, and lead.

Metals such as aluminum, chromium, lead can have carcinogenic and neurological effects on the human body.   For example, chromium is known for its carcinogenic effect and its link to lung cancer and stomach tumors; manganese is known for its neurological effects; lead causes learning, language and behavioral problems.  Lead builds up in the body over time. There is no safe level for lead and yet, many of the lipsticks that are purchased have this metal.   Pregnant women are most vulnerable because it affects them and their unborn child/children.

Notably, the campaign for safe cosmetics is addressing this issue by creating awareness about unsafe cosmetics, lobbying and trying to influence policy makers to set up some standards in terms of trials, regulation and information with the end goal of protecting consumers (Lead in Lipstick, n.d.) For example, although the FDA admits there are metals in lipsticks, they refuse to acknowledge the dangers and potential health risks of these metals. The FDA states that the amount of lead in lipstick is so little that it should have no adverse effect but yet, ensures that lead is removed completely from water  (Lipstick and Lead: Questions and Answers, 2011).

On the other hand, the CDC advices that all sources of lead be eradicated because of the dangers that it presents. Consequently, these are the problems that will need to be overcome to have safer lipsticks:  a) safety trials need to be required before it  is sold to consumers b) there has to be regulations on the cosmetic industry with penalties c) More visible labels listing all ingredients, metals and chemicals.

Furthermore, the call for safety has to start on the policy level and then implementation. Unfortunately, many are unaware of how much power they have to create change via policy. Policy makers want to be in the know; they want to be seen as people protecting citizens and they want to remain in the good graces of voters.  Change on this issue, can occur when people start speaking up, sending emails, and creating awareness which puts pressure on policy makers. Additionally, as consumers, one can choose to create ones products, purchase cosmetics from industries that have concerns about public health and investigate the product company before purchasing.

In conclusion, the following three-pronged recommendation will be the best approach:   a) setting up a standard of what should be in lipsticks and setting a deadline for the complete removal of dangerous chemicals from lipsticks (this will include safety trials before marketing and selling to consumers); b) Requiring cosmetics to be subjected to premarket approval by the FDA; and, c) ensuring all ingredients are listed on the labels.

 

 

 

References

Lead in Lipstick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Campaign for safe cosmetics: http://www.safecosmetics.org/

Lipstick and Lead: Questions and Answers. (2011, Dec 5). Retrieved from U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/products/ucm137224.htm

Liu, S. S.-C. (2013). “Concentrations and potential health risks of metals in lip products.” Environmental Health Perspectives 121.6, 705.

Schaffer, S. (2006). Reading Our Lips: The History of Lipstick Regulation in Western Seats of Power. Retrieved from http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/10018966.

 

 

opusc

One Down

Yesterday evening was the crowning of several months of team work in an interprofessional team.  My interprofessional team was made up of students from  Pharmacy , Public Health (ME), Speech Language Pathology, Dental hygienists, Social workers, Occupational therapy and Physical therapy. Except for me, the rest of the team were clinicians in training,so they’ve  been trained to look at problems, to communicate in a particular way and to find solutions in certain areas.

The question became, “what will happen when all these different fields in health care are asked to solve an administration problem?”  At first, I felt sorry for my team members, because the question that we were trying to solve was a Public Health problem (Management facet of the field) and at first I couldn’t really see how others will use their ‘field lens’ to address the problem and proffer solutions.Thankfully, we were all able to look at the problem from different field lenses and we were  able to provide recommendations to the organization that we were working with.

What did I learn from working with a team made up of clinicians from different fields?

a)  Unlike, many immigrants who started their journey into the world of health care on the clinician side either as CNAs, CMAs, PCAs, HHAs, sitters, etc, I never worked in those capacities.  The closest I came to working on the clinical side of health care was my extremely short stint as a Dental Hygienist after my undergraduate program. It was interesting watching how clinicians think, how they communicate, how they work with a team, what their biases are, how it could affect a team, where they look when they are trying to solve a problem. I am an aspiring global Public Health practitioner and I might end up working with clinicians to solve problems,and so it was an eye-opening experience.

b) The way a non clinician views a problem is different from the way a clinician  might view the same problem. No side is better or  more right than the other.

c)Often people come into a group/team with their biases about others and if that bias, isn’t checked early enough, it could create a problem later on.

d) Everyone has a role in a team and regardless of whatever your role is ensure that, you bring your strengths into the work. Ask your questions, beg for clarifications, bring up your suggestions even if no one listens.

e) Competitions can be a lot of fun.  I actually enjoyed the final event.  The process to the finale was tiring and often very stressful.  Unlike my team members, this was my first semester in this city and  I was dealing with life issues, school issues and then grrr issues.  I was stressed out but I am glad that I saw the process through. I intend participating in other competitions, as I go through my program.  This was an interesting experience and I learnt a lot. No, we didn’t win.

On another note, I am still waiting for a part of my plan to come into fruition.  It is Month Four…….come on now…:-(

Let’s talk microbeads

We all have our little secrets. You know those things that you really enjoy doing when no one is looking or those things that if the world knew that you did or enjoyed, you might get a raised eyebrow. I admit that I am a natural body care/simple lifestyle advocate but yes, I do enjoy the zen feeling from an exfoliating facial scrub several times a week. There is just something about the smell, the scrub scrub feel and the circular motions of my hands on my face. Actually, those pleasures were quite guilt free since I believed that by using a product that was citrus and soy based, I was being very environmentally friendly. So, imagine my shock when a student gave a presentation in one of my classes in which she discussed the dangers of microbeads and how California (not surprisingly) and New York (surprisingly) are on the forefront of forcing cosmetic industries via policies and legislation to come up with an alternative scrubber for their body and facial products.

What are microbeads and why the furor, you wonder? Microbeads are generally micro particle polyethylene beads which are about 1mm or less in diameter that are designed to simply wash down our sewer system. The problem really is that the washed dirty products still with our beads eventually leads to our waterways and these beads are eaten by fish and other marine animals which creates a problem with their DNA structure; these marine animals are eaten by humans or birds and this eventually gets into our system. There is a belief that the continuous use of microbeads product beyond being an environmental hazard might lead to endocrine , birth defect and cancer in humans.
Many cosmetic companies are in the works to phase out microbeads in the next couple of years but that does not mean that we do nothing as we wait for them to do what they need to do. There are alternatives that have been used by other societies for ages that do not harm us or the environment and they are:
a) Salt. Sea salt or regular salt mixed with coconut or olive oil will definitely give the scrub that you want.
b) Sugar : mixing brown or even regular sugar with coconut or olive oil will work as a scrub.
c)Coffee: Since I am anti coffee but I love the smell, using coffee as an alternative for skin care is a way of having a dual product at home which can be served to guests and used as a scrub.. I am a fan of products that have multiple uses. You can use coffee grounds or ground coffee.
d)Baking soda: for 99 cents per pop, you have an exfoliate that can last months. Unfortunately, I have read mixed reviews on this product, some cite the high alkalinity of the product as being one that will eventually wear down the skin barrier and lead to dry skin or skin eruptions. But, then there are others even dermatologists that swear by this product. As you know, baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate.
e) Clay: I could go on and on about clay but this has been used for centuries in different societies. There are different types of clay out there, so just read up and use the one that is best for you.
f) St.Ives. – You know them. Well, they stayed away from the plastic pull of the world of microbeads and they have some great products.
g) Oatmeal, crushed walnut shells, crushed rice particles : These are also alternatives to microbeads.

http://ecowatch.com/2013/10/28/study-shows-plastic-microbeads-facial-scrubs-pollute-great-lakes/
http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/13/business/la-fi-california-microbead-ban-20140213
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/new-york-ban-beauty-products-microbeads-article-1.1611463
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/nyregion/ban-sought-on-microbeads-in-beauty-items.html?_r=0
http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/17/new-york-california-legislation-ban-microbeads-cosmetics/

OPUSC

Show Me The Money!

In many academic programs, Public Health is divided into five (5) distinct fields of interest. We have health promotion and behavior science, epidemiology, environmental science, biostatistics and management, policy and community health practice.

Health promotion and behavior science is all about the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the prevention of disease. Many students in this field have a behavioral science background or are clinicians. Many become health educators, nutritionists, counselors and communicators. As a communication specialist, you could start off in the high 50’s with a masters degree.

Epidemiologists are the main investigators of the public health field. They investigate the reason certain diseases occur. They also look at disease condition in specific populations. Students who have a clinical background often find themselves in this field. You can work in several areas and you have a high earning potential. As a veterinary epidemiologist with a masters degree, you start off in the very high 60’s .

Those in environmental science look at different factors in the environment that can influence human health. Many become advocates. Many also have a background in the sciences.. As an environmental consultant with a masters degree you start off around mid 60’s.

Bio statistics is a field of interest for those who love maths. They develop and apply statistical science to human health. As a public health informatics specialist with a MPH, you will start off in the high 70’s.

Management, Policy and community health is concerned with health organizations, health care reform, cost of health care for individuals. Those in these program have different backgrounds. Many are being trained to solve problems in management, get involved in policy formulation or become analyst or work in an area of community health. Many who have management positions within healthcare earn in in the high 90’s to 6 figures.

Do Not Sleep On This:
Okay,you are reading all this but you really aren’t ready to commit financially or emotionally into this program then why not start off first as a community health worker. Community health workers are trusted individuals within the community that act in the role of a resource to people within the community. They often work within the area of health promotion or health outreach. Now, to become a community health worker, you do not need a masters degree, even those with a high school diploma can get into this field. But, to get within certain positions or to work in certain places, you will need a bachelors degree at least. They earn between 35,000 – 60,000. As a side note, many clinicians (particularly nurses) in developing countries in certain villages, sometimes work in this capacity. In Texas, this is a recognized field and you have to get certified to work as one.

I hope I’ve shown you the money…..LOOOOL!

But,as in all things in life, your degree is what you make of it. I say focus on your area of interest, find what lights up your fire and go for it. You can create your own career and remember, with the right connection, resources, you can maintain your independence and be a consultant.

Till Next Time.

I, Welcome You All To The Field Of Public Health.

OPUSC

Info from:

http://www.simplyhired.com

http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/Career/157/Community_Health_Worker

The Move

As I mentioned, I recently moved physically to Texas to pursue my Masters. About two years ago, I realized that it was time to pursue a field that I had an interest in but at that time, I had to complete certain things in New York before I could leave. But, once it was time, it was time. After I resigned from a company that I had worked with for several years, I spent time with my family in a different state, enjoyed getting to know my baby nephew better and also learnt that you have to keep active babies like him entertained at all times. I also spent that time, working on a different project while getting certain items together for my eventual move to Texas.

If you are on the same journey, for whatever reason and you find yourself in a new state/new country etc. These are the steps that you should take:

• Project A : work on getting a job – you don’t want to keep on dipping into your money, you want some money going in. Have your negotiable and non negotiable, that will determine, what you are willing to do, who you are willing to work with and where you are willing to work? Also, live like a minimalist. I’ve always lived like one and so it is very easy for me to live that way but for many others – this might prove a little difficult. But, you can do it. Key to minimalist living: Don’t get too attached to things. Keep the end in mind. E.g: Don’t purchase a car because everyone has one and you have to keep up but get one because you a) you live in an area that does not have a convenient way to commute b)you live in an area with extreme weather changes c)Well, you really, really love that car. Make big purchases with reasons in mind.

• Project B: Get involved in the meat of your study by looking for problems that need a team to solve. Volunteer if possible. Getting paid is best. Learn a new skill. Currently, everything I am involved with is tied to what I am studying. My team project is one that deals with an area of public health while working with a team of clinical professionals and that is voluntarily. I am currently in a CHW training course which is giving me a deeper understanding of what takes place on the floor/lowest level of community health practice which is the area of study for my graduate program (at least for now 😉 :P)). I am also working with someone else on a different project that involves tying my psychology background + public health and human resources. Basically, I am busy but they are all in my field. In a couple of months, I hope all these will give me a clearer idea of what direction I want to move in Public Health. I am directly involved in my field of study which was what I didn’t have direct access to when I lived in New York.

• Get involved with your community: You can join your local religious community. I currently attend an Episcopal church and I love it. We are all individuals coming from different walks of life seeking to know God more. No judgment – just love, and all are welcome. Volunteer in your community or in other communities that need that niche skill set that you have. There are people who believe that they are skill less for whatever reason but we all have something that can be of use in other communities or even our community.

• Stick to the purpose of your movement. If you moved to go to school – make sure you remain in school. If you moved to have a change in your life – make sure that you take steps that walk in ways of the change you want. If you moved for a career change – then plan and make those moves that go with your career change.

• Be prepared for the emotions: There are times that you will feel over whelmed. Know that is okay. You are in a new place, and on a new adventure and those feelings are normal. Also, have a go to person to speak with. My go to person is a male friend of mine IN an African country.

But in all steps you choose to make, make sure you remain aware and in control of the decision making process of your life. Don’t just go with the flow. You traveled too far to give the reins of your life to anyone.