|Ben Jones, a 2004-2006 Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellow, |
who is now the Waukesha County Public Health Officer
Ben was a Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellow from 2004 to 2006, with a placement at the City of Milwaukee Health Department. He received Bachelor of Science degrees in biochemistry and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000, and a Master of Public Health from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2004, with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics.
Of his experience at the City of Milwaukee Health Department, Ben emphasized the unique opportunities provided to Fellows: “Coming in as a Fellow, they understood that it’s a post-masters, and that you have a lot of education already, and that it’s supposed to be a learning experience. They afforded me opportunities I would not have otherwise had. I was allowed to pick projects that interested me and that benefited the department.” Ben also appreciated the flexibility afforded to Fellows—during his Fellowship, he was able to take a public health course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while still working at the City of Milwaukee Health Department—and the ability to bounce ideas off a mentor and other Fellows.
Upon completing the Fellowship in 2006, Ben stayed with the City of Milwaukee Health Department for another year, as the Health Information Specialist in the communicable disease section. In fall of 2007, he accepted an epidemiologist position at the Public Health Division of Waukesha County’s Department of Health and Human Services, an opportunity that allowed Ben to continue working in epidemiology and gain supervisory experience. In June 2013, Ben was named interim health officer of Waukesha County, and in August 2013 he was officially named health officer.
In his time with Waukesha County, Ben has had the opportunity to gain experience in public health emergency preparedness and response, including response to H1N1 in 2009, as well as outbreaks of hepatitis A, measles, and meningococcal disease. This work has reinforced the importance of working with community partners outside the traditional realm of public health, including police and fire departments, medical examiners, and hospital systems. Ben thinks public health has an important role to play in bringing diverse partners together in these situations: “I think we can utilize public health to open the doors and bring people to the table who maybe historically weren’t at the same table.”
In terms of personal updates, Ben enjoys golfing and trying to keep up with his 3 year old son. His advice for current or prospective Fellows?: “Put yourself out there and try new things. Volunteer to take on new tasks, even if it scares you a little. You never know what doors are going to open.”