We reached out to M.R. Street, Healthy Communities Program Analyst for Florida’s Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, for her thoughts on public health mentorships. “A mentorship relationship is a win-win-win. It benefits the [mentee], mentor and the public health system overall,” she says. Having mentored two students from Florida A&M University and assistant-mentored a third student, Street knows first-hand the rewards of a having a mentorship experience. The mentees’ broad range of skills and abilities, coupled with their passion for the field, is a good reminder of the reasons why she entered this field years ago.
Florida’s Bureau of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion provides a comprehensive approach to preventing, detecting, and reducing complications of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In Street’s current role, she works to promote policy, environment, and systems-change strategies to improve community health, especially regarding healthful eating, physical activity, tobacco avoidance, and the built environment. “Chronic disease prevention is a fascinating field of public health and one that, in my experience, produces a high level of job satisfaction,” she says.
Unfortunately, chronic diseases account for 61.3% of all deaths in Florida and $86.3 billion in annual economic losses. To combat these effects, the bureau houses the following programs: Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Healthy Communities Healthy People, Diabetes Prevention and Control, Comprehensive Cancer Control, Breast and Cervical Early Detection, Arthritis Prevention and Education, and Epilepsy Services. But the existence of programs is not enough. “Return on investment is increasingly important as a measure of the benefit of public health programs,” says Street. It’s important that these programs are able to prove effective in impacting the overall health of Floridians.
We asked Street for her advice on must-have skills for those OMP participants wanting to enter or transition into this field. “Public health professionals should exhibit core competencies that align with the ten essential services of public health,” she recommends. Click HERE to learn more about these competencies. Of course, computer skills and certifications will vary depending on the job opportunity and location.
What can OMP participants do to prepare for a future in chronic disease prevention and health promotion? According to Street, more attention is being placed on the built environment and its impact on health. Having a greater understanding of the environmental role in healthy living could help public health professionals in encouraging healthier communities and designing effective programs.
A big thanks to M.R. Street for her insights. Click here to learn more about Florida’s Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator OMP@health.usf.edu.