Public Health Practice – The 2016 Public Health Association of Nebraska (PHAN) Annual Conference was held in Lincoln, NE September 29 and 30. The theme of this year’s conference was Creating a Healthy Nebraska – One Vision, Many Voices. With over 250 participants the 2016 conference was the largest ever. UNMC COPH was well represented with over 30 students attending the conference, many for the first time thanks to the membership and registration drive sponsored by the COPH Student Association and Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP).
Sessions during the two-day conference included public health nursing, climate change, health disparities, prescription drug overdose, STDs and more. Breakout sessions focused on specific programs leading efforts in these areas at the local and state levels in Nebraska, while the plenary sessions featured national and state level leaders providing some of the latest information shaping public health practice. John Auerbach, Associate Director for Policy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opened things with an overview of new frameworks and tools from the CDC, such as the ‘3 Buckets of Prevention,’ ‘the 6/18 Initiative,’ and ‘the HI-5 and the Health Impact Pyramid.’ Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation was equal parts informative and energizing, challenging everyone in attendance to collaborate and use data differently and better, especially to address the social determinants of health. Castrucci pointed toward the Practical Playbook as one potential tool to improve population health. On day 2, Calder Lynch, Nebraska Medicaid Director, provided an overview of Nebraska’s new Heritage Health Integrated System of Care which will be launched in January. Lisa Waddell, Chief Program Officer, Community Health and Prevention at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) shared lessons learned from ASTHO’s extensive health equity efforts.
Between the sessions, students had the opportunity to network with local health directors by playing ‘Local Health Department BINGO,’ organized by the Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors. Many UNMC COPH alumni were in attendance, representing their organizations and providing students with advice and sharing their experiences. This conference provided students an opportunity to meet new people, and maybe learn more about themselves and what they wish to do in the future. “PHAN is a great experience for us, as students. It gives us the opportunity to meet public health professionals from all over the state, and bridges the gap between the classroom and the field,” explained Katherine Kotas, a 2nd year MPH student.
Participants had an opportunity to attend a reception sponsored by the COPH and the COPH Alumni Engagement Council. Many current COPH students, alumni, faculty and staff and public health practitioners were in attendance. It was a great atmosphere and informal environment to talk with friends and co-workers as well as make new connections for future collaboration.
Dr. Brandon Grimm, President of PHAN (Assistant Professor, and Director of COPH’s OPHP), reported that this was one of the most successful conferences in which he had participated. There were great ideas generated on how we can transform public health in Nebraska. It was also very exciting to have such great representation from the COPH, especially our students. The students are our future workforce, and it is important that they begin to build their network and have the opportunity to learn from local and national experts.
The COPH Online Student Ambassador Jordon Pieper was able to attend PHAN and created a short video overview that can be viewed at http://webmedia.unmc.edu/coph/PHANConference2016.mp4
This article was written by Liene Topko UNMC CoPH Graduate Student