In my first year as a public health associate, I worked for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, where I supported the state’s participation in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). By linking information from multiple sources—medical examiners’ reports, death certificates, and law enforcement incident reports—NVDRS answers the “who, when, where, and how” of violent deaths to provide comprehensive insights about “why” the deaths occurred.
The majority of my NVDRS work involved data collection and analysis. I also worked on the implementation and use of the NVDRS Child Fatality Review module in Connecticut. This tool helps identify the circumstances that put children at risk so future interventions can better protect them. My experiences have drawn me further into epidemiology as a way to measure the health of a population, evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions, and inform policies with the intention of identifying areas and populations where services are most needed. It was especially comforting to see the data and information I’d helped provide to the field being used to educate people and, hopefully, to guide development of interventions against violent deaths.
Throughout my PHAP experience, the willingness of supervisors and other staff to include me in various aspects and levels of public health—and even entertain my ideas—provided me with a really positive work environment and a rewarding experience overall. Their openness allowed me to have experiences that broadened my understanding of public health in various sectors, which in turn gave me a better perspective on how I want to serve public health in the future.