UC Berkeley Trainee Spotlight: Lilly Nhan

Lilly Nhan is a trainee at University of California, Berkeley. She is currently working on research examining the association between characteristics of community and school-level programs and policies and children’s dietary intake and weight status. In this blog post, she highlights her team’s research approach.Headshot_LNhan_2017 copy

With the rise in childhood obesity over the past several decades, numerous programs and interventions have been implemented with the goal of improving children’s diet and overall health. Efforts have spanned from the federal level, such as the USDA’s Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge, to community-based interventions, such as Shape Up Somerville. Furthermore, at the local level communities and school can also implement their own health and wellness related policies.

Thus, children across the US are living in communities with varying numbers and intensities of these programs and policies aimed at improving their health. Instead of focusing on a single intervention, this research seeks to understand across these varying types of interventions, what characteristics of programs and policies are associated with the most beneficial dietary and health outcomes in children. Examples of such characteristics include the amount or combinations of community programs and policies, their intensity, or duration.

This research will (a) characterize the breadth and scope of programs and policies aimed at tackling childhood obesity across multiple US communities, (b) identify the characteristics of these programs and policies that are associated with the best dietary and health outcomes, and (c) help inform best practices for the design and implementation of future childhood obesity interventions.

Working on this project has shown me the importance of research that acknowledges the dynamic interplay between an individual and their environment. People’s eating behaviors are shaped by their physical, social, and economic environments. Consequently, in order for interventions to be effective, they must recognize and meet the needs of their target population and their environment.

I have been inspired by this experience to continue working in childhood obesity research. Through this research, I hope to serve as an advocate for the equitable health and well-being of children across the U.S.

– Lilly Nhan, MCH Nutrition Trainee, University of California, Berkeley

UTK Trainee Spotlight: Marissa McElrone

Marissa McElroneMarissa has been a funded MCH Nutrition Leadership, Education and Training Program trainee at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville since January 2016. This blog post entails her recent appointment as an ambassador in the MCHB Trainee Ambassador Group.

MCHB’s Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG)

Starting this January 2018, I will be serving a 12-month term as a member of the Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG). Established by MCHB’s Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) in 2015, TAG is an ongoing vehicle for working collaboratively with trainees of the MCH Training Program. TAG is composed of trainee representative from a range of DMCHWD programs including:

  • Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)
  • Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)
  • MCH Nutrition
  • MCH Pipeline
  • Pediatric Pulmonary Centers (PPC)
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP)
  • Centers of Excellence in MCH (CoE)

 The goals of the TAG are to foster connections between trainees across the MCH Training Program, provide trainees with leadership development opportunities, and strengthen the link between trainees and MCHB.

Through the TAG, MCHB is:

  1. Strengthening the link between trainees and MCHB
  2. Increasing awareness about the importance of utilizing and engaging trainees
  3. Increasing current trainee awareness/knowledge about the full range of training programs
  4. Improving communication and collaboration among trainees within and across training programs
  5. Facilitating connections between current and former trainees
  6. Providing trainees with additional leadership development opportunities

The TAG provides trainees with the opportunity to conceptualize, develop, and lead efforts to facilitate trainee connections via activities such as a mentoring program, trainee forums, and collaborative research projects.

For information about eligibility and TAG ambassador roles and responsibilities visit the TAG informational page on the MCHB website. Also, check out this TAG introductory video the 2015 cohort created. I look forward to sharing more about my experiences on TAG as the year continues!

-Marissa McElrone, MCH Trainee, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

 

UMN Trainee Spotlight: Yetunde Akingbemi

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Yetunde is a trainee at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Currently, she has joined a team working on a project assessing health outcomes of women and girls of color in sanctuary cities. In this blog post, she has introduced her team’s plan for this project. Future blog post(s) will continue to document her progress and results. 

 

Protecting the Health of Women and Girls of Color in Sanctuary Cities: A Public Health Perspective

Current immigration policies and climate have had several negative impacts on families and communities. These include fears of the system impacting health seeking behavior, barriers to access to health care, and increased stress, fear, and anxiety. The purpose of this project is to increase awareness of the public health impact that immigration policies have on the health of women and girls of color, and to document the potential of sanctuary cities as safety nets to ensure the well-being of families and communities.

Our research team plans to conduct a community-based participatory needs assessment, and collaborate with a local agency and community members to develop a policy brief and factsheets. The agency we are partnering with is the Saint Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (SPIP). The content and message of these factsheets will be determined by the women and girls involved in this project.

We will be focusing on several different outcomes while working with SPIP. These include specific birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm births, and infant mortality.

We also plan to focus on mental health in reports of stress, anxiety, depression, and the effects of bullying among school-aged children. We will research the effects of substance abuse and suicide among adolescents. Depression among mothers will be evaluated as well. This aspect of the project is especially interesting to me, as I have a passion for raising mental health awareness among pregnant and postpartum women. I am also excited for the opportunity to work with women and girls of color, as the health of this population is often overlooked.

Another aspect of the project will be investigating food access and the awareness, participation, and utilization of food assistance programs such as WIC, food pantries, and other services available for these populations. I am looking forward to using my background in dietetics to further evaluate the effect of food and nutrition on the women and children at SPIP.

Being a part of this project inspires me to work to improve the health outcomes of these women and children, and to be a voice for them.

-Yetunde Akingbemi, MCH Trainee, University of Minnesota

 

UTK Trainee Spotlight: Ruth Zegel

IMG_0369Ruth is a trainee at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Ruth was a funded MCH Nutrition Leadership, Education  and Training Program trainee from January 2017 until December 2017 and is currently completing her dietetic internship.

Live at 5 at 4: Promoting MCH Nutrition Events on Local Media

Each semester at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, we plan and host the Promoting Healthy Weight Colloquium. Each colloquium focuses on various topics relating to the promotion of healthy weight among the maternal and child health population. Past colloquia have addressed maternal obesity, infant feeding, early childhood, children with special healthcare needs, hunger and food insecurity, and most recently novel interventions with children and youth.

When putting on this event for 900+ participants (including onsite and webcast participants), there are many tasks that must be completed by the MCH Nutrition Leadership Team. Typically, one trainee is in charge of the colloquium for that semester and delegates various tasks to the whole leadership team. This past fall, I was given the task of promoting the colloquium on our local news station, WBIR. For many years, the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has had a great relationship with WBIR, consisting of guest appearances by some faculty members to talk about nutrition. This relationship allows us to showcase the colloquium on a segment entitle “Live at 5 at 4.”

I don’t know about you, but until this experience, I had never even been on a local news set! This was definitely an eye-opening and entertaining experience. As future leaders within the field of nutrition, it is important for us to learn how to interact in front of a camera. What better way to learn then to jump right in! When I first got on set at WBIR, I remember thinking that there were so many monitors and lights in front of me. I even asked, “where do I look?” I was completely clueless. Being on “Live on 5 at 4” gave me the chance to practice my communication skills in front of a camera, and it was so fun! There’s still plenty of growing room as I continue to learn how to appropriately interact with the media, but this interaction definitely helped me grow in my confidence and abilities!

Interacting with local media in a positive way is so useful to promote events or nutrition tips. It’s important for us to advocate for the field of nutrition, and sometimes that might mean being in the public eye.

Check out this clip to see what the set looks like from behind the scenes!

-Ruth Zegel, MCH Nutrition Trainee, University of Tennessee