2nd Year Fellow Interview: Erica LeCounte

Erica LeCounte, MPH

Population Health Service Fellow 

City of Milwaukee Health Department
Center for Urban Population Health

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When did you begin your fellowship?
July 1, 2012

Where is your fellowship placement? 
I’m placed with the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the Center for Urban Population Health.

What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on four main projects: 
1) I’ve been developing an evaluation plan for the DAD Project, a new home visiting program for fathers with young children or men in a father role.  I’ve been researching and designing surveys and evaluation tools to measure outcomes, and I will also be facilitating focus groups with mothers and fathers to get feedback about the program.
2) I am also working on a home visiting evaluation to see how well the Empowering Families of Milwaukee, Nurse Family Partnership, and Prenatal Care Coordination programs are doing in helping mothers have healthy pregnancies and healthy children.  So far I have been working on an IRB application and will soon begin analyzing program data.
3) I am working to develop a prematurity surveillance system and analyzing data to get a better understanding of premature births in Milwaukee.
4) Finally, I am working on a life expectancy project, which involves calculating and mapping life expectancies for all zip codes in Milwaukee County.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in public health?
I took a course in undergrad in maternal and child health.  The course introduced me to public health, and I realized that there are other ways of improving health than becoming a physician.  I also learned a lot about developing programs and evaluation plans, which really introduced me to the field of public health and made me want to pursue a career in this area.

What made you decide to join the fellowship program as opposed to other career or educational options?
I chose the fellowship because I had spent my entire life in school and I wanted more work experience, which I knew I would need for the jobs I am interested in pursuing.  I also thought the fellowship would be a great opportunity to grow and develop in ways that I wouldn’t be able to if I had stayed in school for another degree or accepted a job right out of grad school.

What has been your favorite part of the fellowship so far?
The ability to explore different career options.  My background is in epidemiology, so in my first year I focused mostly on projects involving data.  In my second year I have been able to focus more on planning, implementing, and evaluating programs.  It has helped give me a broader range of experience and a better idea of what I want to do career-wise.

What is one of the most important things you have learned over the course of your fellowship so far?
Definitely to take advantage of every opportunity I’m given and utilize the people around me.  It’s great to be able to take advantage of my preceptors, especially when I have questions about any ideas I have or about different career paths.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
This is a hard question for me – there are so many places I want to go!  I guess I’d say Hawaii because it would be great to take a nice long vacation on the water.