Since September 11, 2017, I have been serving a full AmeriCorps term with the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. This is my first experience fully submerging myself into public health. Although I have only been here a short time, I have gained valuable insight on how to S.U.C.C.E.E.D. in the public health field.
My term with AmeriCorps has been a transition. There’s been a considerable learning curve as I’ve taken all the skills I learned in the classroom and put them to use. The shift to full independent living and the stress of graduate school applications has made it challenging at times. This has taught me the true importance of support. I am not just talking about the support you give and receive from interpersonal relationships, but also the support you give yourself. I realized that our professional and personal lives will inevitably intertwine and the effects can be depleting. When you aren’t supporting yourself in one area, you will always feel it in another. It is important to be able to recognize how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, and create a game plan to either sustain the positive environment or change the circumstances. A phrase I have truly started to embody is: “self-care is healthcare.”
Here at Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, we have seven initiatives. That means there is always a lot going on! We not only support existing statewide programs, but we also work to create new perspectives on children’s health issues. We know public health works to create systems change. In order to create that change, we need individuals who think inside, outside and all around the box. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and explore ideas that may seem too unconventional. Sometimes radical ideas ignite our success.
The Alliance serves as a table where federal, state and local stakeholders can gather and discuss the health issues children are facing in Wisconsin. If I have learned anything from my time in this position, it is that public health success relies on strong relationships. Coalition creation is the key to getting things done. Coalitions need interdisciplinary professionals to meet the needs of every problem. Once established, coalitions require integrity and accountability to sustain over time.
My last two points go hand in hand. The first is to exceed expectations. Going beyond what is expected will never go unnoticed and it’s appreciated by all those involved. When you produce good work, you feel prepared and confident, which creates a positive work environment. Always ask how you can do better and if you can do more.
The final thing I’ve learned is the importance of detail. Detail is everything! When planning an event, it is so important to have every detail checked multiple times. When attention to detail is a priority, events run smoothly. This has become evident while working with our Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team. One of my responsibilities is to coordinate state legislators’ visits to our Reach Out and Read clinics. Paying attention to details during planning has made state leaders more informed and helped them make decisions that positively impact children.
One of my favorite parts about being an AmeriCorps member at the Alliance has been working with our state’s amazing Reach Out and Read team! They are an inspiration to me and I am always amazed at the work they accomplish with such a small but mighty staff. If it was not for their positive support and guidance, I would not have been able to put together four successful legislative visits. Some of the best moments have been watching our state leaders engage with books and children. The smiles on everyone’s faces are a reminder of why Reach Out and Read is such an impactful program.