2nd Year Fellow Interview: Carly Hood

Carly Hood, MPA, MPH

Population Health Service Fellow

Wisconsin Center for Health Equity
Health First Wisconsin
Wisconsin Division of Public Health

Madison, Wisconsin

When did you begin your Fellowship?
I started the Fellowship in August 2012. While I participated in orientation activities in early July, I was finishing credits for my global health certificate during the month so I didn’t actually start at my placement sites until August.

Where is your Fellowship placement?
My placement sites were originally at Health First Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health in the Coordinated Chronic Disease section. Since my interest area has evolved and much of my work is equity focused, I have maintained my Health First Wisconsin placement, but transitioned to doing more work with the Wisconsin Minority Health Program and the Wisconsin Center for Health Equity. It’s nice that the program is adaptable; my preceptors and sites have changed to suit my interests and ensure I’m getting the most I can out of the Fellowship.

What were you up to prior to your Fellowship?
Prior to the Fellowship I had been gallivanting internationally for several years; I was teaching English, volunteering, working on photography, and shaking my sense of wanderlust (never leaves btw…). Post international work, I moved to Wisconsin to pursue my Master of Public Affairs at the Robert M. Lafollette School of Public Affairs and kept finding health justice was the policy area I was most interested in. Just before starting the Fellowship I completed both my Master of Public Affairs and Master of Public Health degrees. My coursework was heavily policy analysis and global health.

What inspired you to take the Fellowship route rather than a different type of job/school/etc.?
The Fellowship seemed a great way to TRY ON different aspects of public health. It’s such a broad field and it’s so easy to get pigeonholed in specific roles and jobs. Rather than jumping into a particular job, the fellowship has allowed me to dabble in a wide variety of projects, requiring use of different skills and specialties. To me, this meant I’d be better equipped in the long run to choose a job that aligns most closely with my desired professional objectives and the skills I enjoy using. It’s allowed me to both determine what I LIKE to do day in and day out, and what I DO NOT like to do. I should also note, this flexibility means the Fellowship requires a lot of self-direction. Since there’s no pre-determined “job deliverable” or particular skill set required, you sometimes have to look harder for those projects you want to work on or create them yourself! But I enjoy that.

What are your main areas of interest within public health?
Having the economics and policy background that I do, I definitely come at public health with that lens. My main area of focus is how social policies—those related to income/poverty, employment, education and housing—ultimately impact health outcomes. Having studied economics in undergraduate school at Lewis and Clark College, I view things at the systems-level and often take a very global perspective (details aren’t my forte. See? I’m learning about how my brain works in the Fellowship!). I’m fascinated by how we set up our societies, programs, institutions, etc. to support or inhibit health and well-being—which I believe is a human right. There are a lot of countries around the world that have established recognized pillars or foundations for their citizens (access to education, housing, healthcare, and financial support in times of need) which leave their populations healthier, living longer, and requiring less money to be spent on “band aid” solutions down the road.

What are some things you are working on right now in your fellowship?
The biggest projects I’m currently working on include:
1) Implementing and evaluating a professional development training for my public health colleagues to encourage a focus on the social determinants of health;
2) Researching the link between social policy and health outcomes and presenting this information at orientations, trainings and conferences; and
3) Trying to turn efforts towards writing/publishing for my last 7 months as a Fellow!  
What is one public health achievement you think will happen in the next 25 years? What is one you would like to see in the next 25 years?
I think people will start to connect poverty to health a bit more and I HOPE this means we start considering bigger poverty reduction/child support policies at the national and state levels (we could take a page out of the books of some other countries in this respect).

I would LIKE to see traditional health professionals (doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics) adopt practices/advocate for broad policy change that would have a more far reaching impact on patient health outcomes than individual, clinical care alone. I think this, too, is attainable. The more people can understand that health is not just in the hospital or clinic, the quicker the solutions will come.

Do you have any fun insider tips about life in Madison?
Get a CSA! Community Supported Agriculture is HUGE here and it’s amazing! For 2 summers now, I’ve picked up a box of veggies from a local farm every other week and spent about $50 a month on yogurt, tofu, and beans in the store. It saves money, it’s delicious, and it supports Wisconsin farmers. Do it!