Two Sides of the Coin
Fire and Water. Light and Dark. Health and Disease. Life and Death.
All these are dualities found in nature, each one integral to the other. The sharp contrast of burning embers could not exist without the soothing calm of oceans; eternal sunshine without eternal darkness; a full lifetime without the never-ending sleep.
Two sides of the same coin.
This, I believe, is the same relationship that public health and medicine share. As a prospective physician, it was important for me to understand both sides of this coin known as the health profession.
Public health focuses on the health of the population as a whole. In contrast, medicine centers on the needs of the individual. Thus, before pursuing my medical studies, it made sense to me to educate myself on the broader aspects of health by attaining a master of public health degree from the USF College of Public Health.
As an undergraduate, I realized that health as a whole was becoming globalized, thus I chose to concentrate my degree in global communicable diseases. The ailments that plague our neighbors could soon become our own if we are not vigilant in both surveillance and intervention efforts.
Becoming a sentinel of the health/disease phenomenon fascinated me and led me to embark on a field experience at Florida Hospital Tampa, Department of Infection Control.
Working with the infection control preventionists (ICPs) has been most rewarding. Tasked with ensuring that infections are kept to a minimum, the ICPs are constantly managing a wide array of projects throughout the hospital, many of which I have been fortunate enough to be included.
Part of our daily tasks include reviewing laboratory reports to search for any indications of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) or diseases that are required to be reported to the health department. This requires placing patients into proper isolation precautions, depending on the individual’s condition. On more than one occasion I discovered cases of patients coming from other countries with serious communicable ailments, reinforcing the argument for the globalization of health.
We also conduct daily rounds on the floors, inspecting patient and soiled utility rooms, construction areas, nurses stations, and other places of interest for anything that could prove conducive to infection. If an area of concern is discovered, a solution is quickly devised.
Additionally, the department spearheads numerous initiatives aimed at perpetuating proper education for visitors and employees alike. For example, creating a hand hygiene video depicting the importance of hand washing in the hospital environment.
My field experience entailed a retrospective study of the reduction and rise in HAIs in correlation with consistent and inconsistent ATP monitoring. It is currently under review in the department. Once approved it will serve as additional evidence for the department to campaign for more resources for consistent bacterial swabs.
With such a varied and dynamic set of ventures, there are more than enough projects to keep the ICP team busy as we work towards being the allegorical sentinels, diligently patrolling to keep infections at bay.
I envision my future career as such: armed with a medical doctorate, my master of public health degree, and the experiences associated with both—including my time with the ICP team—I hope to become an incisive tool in the implementation of change in the health care community.
The old adage goes, “Prevention is better than the cure.” As a health professional, I aim to make that part of every future physician’s thought process. Whether I can do this through policy changes, lobbying for more preventative measures in medicine, or simply by being a more conscientious physician remains to be seen.
Lofty goals? Maybe.
But, I am not on the path that I am on to fill my bank account. Doctors should be the pillars of their communities, not con artists looking to make a quick buck. I am walking forward to make a difference, to make an ever lasting impact on the profession as a whole. That is why a full comprehension of health/disease phenomenon is necessary.
So, regardless of how the coin flips I’ll be prepared for anything that lies on the long journey ahead.
Jason’s field experience is one of three culminating experiences required for a master’s degree in public health. On Saturday, August 10, he and 164 other Bulls graduated with a degree from the USF College of Public Health in Tampa. Concentrating in global communicable diseases, the Department of Global Health served as his academic home for graduate stuides. The department offers more than 10 concentrations that lead to MPH, MSPH, DrPH, and PhD degrees, as well several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and special programs. Most recently, the college launched an online master of public health degree in infection control.
Written by Jason Banarsee, USF College of Public Health