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Public Health Practicums: An Impact on Rural Communities Across America

During the winter months leading up to the spring semester, Dr. Tillman presented Ivonne Santiago López , first-year dual degree PharmD/MSPH student, with a unique opportunity to work remotely with Public Knowledge, an organization based in Washington, D.C. Since Ivonne considers professional relationships really important to her work, she recently planned a trip to our nation’s capital to visit with her preceptor, Alisa Valentin.


By Ivonne Marie Santiago López

During the winter months leading up to the spring semester, Dr. Tillman presented Ivonne Santiago López , first-year dual degree PharmD/MSPH student, with a unique opportunity to work remotely with Public Knowledge, an organization based in Washington, D.C. Since Ivonne considers professional relationships really important to her work, she recently planned a trip to our nation’s capital to visit with her preceptor, Alisa Valentin.

Ivonne was willing to give a little more insight into the collaboration for us to share below:

Since Public Knowledge is located in Washington, D.C., we have been relying on Gmail, Google Drive, phone conference, and text messages to collaborate. I have always wanted to visit Washington, D.C. to see and visit all of the historical monuments. I thought this was the perfect opportunity since Alisa has been a phenomenal preceptor and we are making substantial progress as a team. I decided to talk to her and schedule a meeting so we could meet in-person and make that personal relationship that I consider to be really important when working in a team. We met over breakfast and had time to discuss a little more about our background, goals, and aspirations, as well as some ideas and future steps for our work together at Public Knowledge.

We are working on the Rural Broadband Access project trying to spread the voice about the need of affordable and reliable internet access for all communities in the United States and find ways to take action to eliminate this issue and give everyone (minorities and majorities communities in rural America) a full, affordable service. We have been gathering data and identifying communities with low to no access to internet and their population (percentage White, percentage African American, and percentage Latinos). We have been focusing on ways to bring together and assess intersection of rural communities of color, rural broadband, and healthcare. We have been focusing on the five social determinants of health, behavioral theories, and known facts about rural areas to develop our next steps. Since we identified that mental health is a rising and important disparity in rural communities, we have been doing some research on the topic and we are currently working with statistics on rural broadband access and how it will assess the 3A’s of Public Health (Accessibility, Availability, Acceptability).

We’ve also have been in contact with the National Hispanic Media Coalition working on the “Conectamos San Juan” Project, a project addressing the disconnectedness in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. I am energized about the opportunity to work with Alisa and Public Knowledge to create change within rural communities across America.

 

This post was previously published on publicknowledge.org and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

 

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