For me, the best learning experiences often happen outside the classroom. Applying newly acquired knowledge and skills to real-world issues helps me to solidify concepts and make more connections than any exam, essay, or presentation ever could. In fact, the 680-hour internship requirement of my master’s program was one of the main reasons I decided to enroll in the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. I am meeting that requirement now by spending six months at the Division of Research, Training, and Education (DRTE) in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), which administers MCH Training Program grants.
I have learned so much about Title V-funded MCH Training during my time at DRTE. Before this internship opportunity, I did not know about the MCH Training Program, or even realize that I was an MCH trainee! As I became more familiar with this program, which annually affects some 27,000 trainees at 125 programs nationwide, I gained a better understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of MCH. I never realized, for example, that I would collaborate with pediatric dentists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists within MCH. I also learned that the federal government has been funding MCH training since the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1922, teaching me that workforce development is a long-standing investment for the field of MCH.
My time here had also taught me a lot about myself. By watching MCHB and DRTE prepare to develop strategic goals, I have discovered that I enjoy the process of strategic planning. I have also confirmed my interest in a career in federal government. While I originally had concerns about the issues with government bureaucracy, my experience has been so positive that I am already searching for federal jobs and fellowships. Perhaps most important, the encouragement that I received from individuals at DRTE and our partner organizations has helped me to build confidence in my abilities, which I know will make me a more effective member of the MCH workforce.
In light of the 75th anniversary of Title V, I would like to offer a suggestion for the future of MCH Training. Many trainees are ignorant of the scope of MCH Training, yet each has a unique perspective on the field of MCH. I hope that in the future there will be more opportunities for students to engage in across-program interactions and partnerships. Communication and collaboration are key components of MCH; how better could we prepare future MCH professionals than to provide them opportunities to develop these skills during their training?
I will miss the staff here at DRTE when I leave in December, but I do not think I will ever truly leave their ranks. The lessons they have taught me will greatly impact my professional life, and their infectious enthusiasm and devotion to workforce development will help guide my work in MCH for the rest of my career.
MHS Candidate May 2011
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University
Division of Research, Training, and Education