Volume 3.1 | March 1, 2019
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Population Science and Policy is excited to bring you The Pioneer Pulse, a monthly supplement to our larger quarterly newsletter, The Pioneer .
March is National Professional Social Work Month and the Department of Population Science and Policy is proud to recognize the role social workers play in public health.

Many social workers practice broadly in public health and other health settings, combining clinical and population health to maximize positive health outcomes. Public health and social work have been historically connected as both fields emerged in the early 20 th century when social workers, doctors and public health officials worked together to combat infectious diseases.

Today, social workers assume a wide array of roles and often work to serve individuals who are facing significant health disparities. The practice of social work is typically categorized into three scales: micro, mezzo and macro. The majority of social workers practice on the micro level , which involves direct interaction with clients to address individual problems. Mezzo level social workers look at groups instead of individuals to solve problems in businesses, schools, organizations and communities. Finally, macro level social workers help clients through large-scale intervention and advocacy, affecting entire communities, states or countries.

The link between public health, population health and social work is increasingly important as more healthcare entities put an emphasis on understanding the social determinants of health and improving access to healthy choices. Many universities now offer dual degrees in public health and social work to teach the cultural response and communication skills of a social worker along with the scientific training of a public health official.

As the Department of Population Science and Policy works to improve health in central and southern Illinois, we rely heavily on individuals, organizations and experts who look for ways to improve health outside of the confines of a hospital or clinic. The key to our successful interventions is bridging traditional divides between various entities and stakeholders who work in health and medical fields.

We are all working toward a common goal, and the mutual support, communication and sharing of innovative ideas and best practices is integral in creating real, sustainable change.
Learn more about the intersection of population health, public health and social work with PSP's Kimberly Palermo. Kimberly, who holds a master's degree in social work, practices on the macro level by advocating for overarching health policy reform.

Title: Health Policy Specialist
I am from Des Plaines, Illinois, and attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where I danced and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I continued my education at SIUC and earned my master's in social work (MSW). While attending graduate school, I was selected as the 2016/2017 Celia M. Howard Fellow at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and as a SIU School of Medicine Trauma-Based Behavioral Health Fellow. These opportunities allowed me to simultaneously advocate for underserved populations and promote mental health support to youth exposed to trauma.
I am passionate about bringing awareness and working to combat human trafficking and I serve as an active member of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Taskforce. Recently, I organized a human trafficking care package event where several members of the community came together to build 200 care packages for survivors. I also was the planning committee co-chair for a human trafficking conference titled “They Never Asked.” The conference featured presentations from survivors, healthcare experts, law enforcement and service providers.
I also serve as the education co-chair for the SIU Medicine Alliance for Women in Medicine and Science (AWIMS). In this leadership position, I organized an educational panel as part of the “He for She” global movement for gender equality. This month, AWIMS will be featuring art made by survivors of violence as part of the 2019 Women’s History Month theme, “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.”

In my role at PSP, I focus on improving rural health policy and I'm fortunate to be able to share that work with colleagues across the country. I recently presented a poster titled “The Illinois Rural Health Summit: Creating a Policy Blueprint to Improve Rural Health Outcomes” at the National Health Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

When I'm not working, my hobbies include dancing, making ceramics and hiking with my pup .
What brought you to PSP? I was excited to join PSP because of its work to serve vulnerable communities across the state and to promote policy change to improve the lives of Illinois residents. This role allows me to use my skills as a social worker to make real change in Illinois communities.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done or learned with PSP? The Illinois Rural Health Summit was an amazing experience. It was eye-opening to see the variety of dedicated stakeholders and learn about their work and impact on rural communities.

Being a part of the medical school provides many opportunities to make a real impact on the future of public health. PSP's work educates students, residents, faculty and staff to consider the social determinants of health through a public health and social work lens. I feel like my work has value and I'm making an impact that will positively affect the lives of many residents in Illinois.
The last few months have been busy and fruitful for PSP as our faculty and staff have traveled across Illinois and the country to present our work at conferences.

Some Highlights Include:

PSP's presentations, posters, lectures and panel discussions are an essential aspect of sharing our work within academic and healthcare communities. Furthermore, attending conferences allows us to make valuable connections with others in the field and learn best practices to better inform our interventions as we work to close disparities and improve population health.
Population Science and Policy faculty and staff are routinely invited to speak at local, statewide and national events. If you are interested in learning more about our Department or would like to have a member of the Department attend or speak at your local event, please contact us at [email protected] .
The Department of Population Science and Policy is proud to join the SIU system to celebrate its annual Day of Giving. Please consider giving to SIU - and earmarking your funds for the Department of Population Science and Policy - to help us continue our journey to improve the health of residents and communities in central and southern Illinois.
Dr. Vohra, PSP Policy Director Carolyn Pointer, former PSP Peace Corps Fellow Arden Caffrey and recently retired SIU SOM Professor and former Chair of Internal Medicine Dr. Steward wrote an article titled " The Role of Community Health Needs Assessments in Medicalizing Poverty" that was recently published in the Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics.

PSP is proud to share our work on a national stage through these published works.
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