When she was growing up, Rochester native Abby Salter always loved the sciences, so it came as no surprise that she chose Biology as her major when she entered Niagara University. What Abby did not expect was that she would fall in love with Public Health, one of her dual minors alongside Chemistry. That passion lead her to UAlbany’s School of Public Health, where she is now in her 2nd year of the two-year Master’s program with a concentration in Epidemiology and a certificate (minor) in Health Disparities.
Abby found her internship with Whitney Young Health’s Community Based Programs (CBP) department on the UAlbany website. “It looked like a perfect fit”, said Abby, who was looking for an opportunity that combined her areas of interest – pediatrics, community health, Trauma-Informed Care and social determinants of health.
Since starting her internship this past September, Abby has worked alongside CBP program director Amanda Duff and her staff to improve outreach efforts to patients. “I’ve been able to apply the lessons I’ve learned in school and actually see things in a real-world setting”, Abby said of her experience. “I have run focus groups, worked with qualitative data and community engagement”.
Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)
(see article below)
is becoming standard in community health settings nationwide. Whitney Young Health is piloting TIC in pediatrics, particularly in the School Based Health Centers (SBHCs), with a plan to go agency-wide as areas of need are discovered.
Through her internship, Abby has worked on broader outreach programs to build relationships with the families of children in the SBHCs and visited Whitney Young Health staff at the schools to ask them their interpretation of TIC and what they believe should be the next steps taken.
Abby has also worked with the parents/families to find out what resources they need and finding out the best ways to reach out to them. “People seem to have this idea that when parents don’t show up at school meetings, it’s because they don’t care, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Parents, she said, often don’t attend meetings because they may not have been contacted, or if they were, they cannot get to the meetings due to lack of transportation, having to work second or third jobs, and having to take care of other kids and family members. Using the principles of Trauma-Informed Care and creating more and better pathways to communication with patients and families allows staff to break down misconceptions and misunderstandings that can occur. A new Community Based Programs intern will start in January of 2020 with the spring semester focused entirely on outreach to families.
Abby’s internship ends this month, but she plans to continue in the field. Going forward, she says, she would like to pursue a degree in medicine or psychology incorporating public health. “I love the one-on-one interactions allowed in medicine and psych, but I also love the community impact of public health...I've learned so much at Whitney Young Health. I'm going to miss it!"