When Jennie Cauthern was pursuing her Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Science, she completed an internship at the Howard County Health Department.
“When I first began as an intern, I was working with the public health nursing department researching syringe service programs and harm reduction to see how that would work in Howard County,” Cauthern said. “It was great because my master’s project focused on drug syringes that were discarded in public spaces.”
After graduating in 2016, Cauthern transitioned to an employee of the health department, where she now serves as the public health project coordinator. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she mostly focused on responding to opioid and hepatitis C health challenges in the area.
“I’m a numbers person, and before the Indiana State Department started providing a breakdown of demographics within the state, we started compiling our local data. I’m serving as the proxy for our preparedness coordinator, and I realized that our nurses were receiving vital information that could help us begin to understand who was most at risk in Howard County.”
“People are responding. It’s shocking how many more followers we have. I hope people will continue to follow our social media pages and public health messages in the future.”
The education and training Cauthern received at the Fairbanks School of Public Health is what helped her respond so quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic and serve Howard County residents.
“Epidemiology is in my heart, and I had great professors. The classes that I took, biostatistics, epidemiology, gave me a good solid background and foundation to look at the numbers and co-morbidity to see who is at high-risk for adverse health effects from COVID. Without that background, I wouldn’t understand the role demographics have in the disease spread in a population,” Cauthern said.
“When I went to IUPUI, the faculty and staff were just amazing. It was such a good experience; everyone was so supportive and knowledgeable. Everyone had such diverse backgrounds that played a great role in how they taught and what they put into their classes.”
Cauthern encourages current students to make the most of their internship experiences, as hers has shaped her career.
At the Fairbanks School of Public Health, we remain committed to advancing the public’s health and well-being through education, innovation, and leadership. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to impact our nation, we will highlight the work of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. If there is a story you would like to tell, please send that information to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.