By Katey Redmond,
MPH Student, Family and Child Health-Global Concentration
A year ago, the thought of me in a OneHealth class was unfathomable. At the time I did not know what OneHealth was and I learned the discipline examines the interactions between the interactions of human, animal, and environmental health, I had different insecurities about my fit. While I appreciate their role in the ecosystem and the joy they bring others, I cannot be described as an enthusiastic “Animal Lover.” Yet, I sincerely enjoyed my time with SAFER (Student Aid For Field Epidemiology Response) team and asked the instructor Dr. Kristen Pogreba-Brown if there was a similar class to take for another elective. She mentioned her new OneHealth class with Dr. Kate Ellingson which sounded interesting, so I registered. Now, I am confident that class will be one of my highlights of graduate school because it broadened my anthropomorphic (people-focused) viewpoints.
I was the only student from the Family Child Health, Global Concentration. The other 9 classmates were MPH and PhD students from the inaugural OneHealth MPH program, Epidemiology program and Environmental Health Sciences. This created an enviroment where each of the diverse backgrounds of students covered all three domains in our activities. While I would always raise cultural issues, my classmates would advocate for the impacts on animal health and enviroment. Plus, I have great memories with my classmates through a World Rabies Day webinar, a tabletop outbreak exercise with ADHS, and supporting the rewarding Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Round Up on San Carlos Indian Reservation. In addition to working with amazing tribal members, Indian Health Services, and CDC employees, we had the privilege of visiting with adorable puppies through the RMSF Round Up!
These days, wicked problems it is easy to get disheartened by the news and impacts of global warming. However, while OneHealth does not necessarily provide an anecdote to every concern, using the three domains together also provides powerful adaptation strategies. OneHealth reminds me that humans are not alone in struggling with various concerns but share strife with animals and environments. Through this class, I have another lens and field experiences for my Global Health toolbox, that will make me a stronger public health student. Now when I analyze public health issues, I consider the impacts on environments and animals with the human cost. Moreover, I know how critical interdisciplinary work is for global health and will remember how successful my “wicked project team” was with the our individual foci in OneHealth, Environmental Health, and Global Health, creating the winning solution for a climate migration intervention in the Sahel Region in Africa.
Overall, it is worth considering a class outside of your comfort zone (or concentration) as you never know what you could experience!