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Occupational Health Services Research and Policy

Student Profiles


Ryan KleinRyan Klein, PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OHSRP program?

I had earned a BS in Economics, and had begun collaborating on research related to the health of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in North Carolina.

What made you interested in the field of occupational health services research and policy?

I had just begun studying the occupational health of migrant and seasonal farmworkers when I discovered the field of OHSRP. I was intrigued by the field's interdisciplinary approach that would allow me to pursue my interest in occupational health, while also using the tools of economics that I had acquired through my undergraduate studies.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I chose the University of Minnesota firstly because of the strong reputation of the School of Public Health, but also because of my interest specifically in the OHSRP program. I was also impressed by the breadth of programs that are offered by the university, which would allow for interdisciplinary perspectives and opportunities.

What jobs or internships have you been able to work while working on your degree?

I have been able to work internships at both the United States Department of Labor, and at the Minnesota Department of Health while working on my degree. I have also worked jobs as a graduate teaching assistant in the Division of Environmental Health, and as a graduate research assistant at the Minnesota Population Center.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

At this point I am considering work in either consulting or state government, but I am always open to exploring other new and exciting career opportunities. I am hoping to find a job that allows me to use my research and data management skills in an innovative and creative way to impact occupational health and safety.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I would say that the OHSRP program provides students with a broad range of skills and knowledge that will prepare you for success in many different career paths. The program also allows the flexibility to tailor your coursework around topics that are interesting to you. Whether your goal is to further develop an interest in a specific occupational health topic, or instead to explore new issues and perspectives in the field, the OHSRP doctoral program gives you the opportunity to accomplish both.

 

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Genelle LamontGenelle Lamont, MPH

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OHSRP program?

I received a master degree in Environmental Health from the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. Prior to joining the OHSRP program, my work experience included public health research and internship positions at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Division of Diabetes Translation, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Native American Research Center for Health and non-profit organizations, including Preventing Harm Minnesota (St. Paul, MN), National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN) and the Center for Environmental Health (Oakland, CA). These positions allowed me to work on a variety of public health topics, including healthy housing, radon, tobacco use, GIS mapping, diabetes, environmental and public health advocacy, mental health and American Indian and Minority Health.

What made you interested in the field of occupational health services research and policy?

My previous work and interest in environmental and occupational health and advocacy led me to pursue coursework and volunteer activities in policy and policy research during my master's program. This experience allowed me to see the power of research and evidence-based practice to influence policy and ultimately improve population health. The Occupational Health Services Research and Policy doctoral program allows me to develop further expertise in this area and build necessary leadership and research skills to achieve my career goals.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I chose the University of Minnesota because I had a wonderful experience with the School of Public Health during my master's degree. I really like the supportive faculty and staff.

What jobs or internships have you been able to work on while working on your degree?

I have held four positions while working on my doctoral degree. The first few years I worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota, Division of Environmental Health Sciences teaching two online introductory environmental health courses (one undergraduate and one graduate), where I learned skills in course development, teaching, and evaluation.

I also worked as a research assistant with the American Indian Community Tobacco Projects (AICTP), where I developed skills in community-based participatory research, survey design, data collection, management and analysis.

I worked on a three-year Clearway funded project called the Tribal Tobacco Prevalence Study, the first state-based American Indian commercial tobacco use prevalence study; also the basis for my dissertation project.

Last year I was a Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) Fellow working at the Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Health Promotion, where I worked to develop the first staff Health Literacy Workshop. I also worked on the health equity team doing policy research that became part of the groundwork for the nationally recognized MDH Health Equity Report to the Legislature.

My current full-time position as the Minnesota Oral Health Surveillance Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program involves the collection, management, analysis and presentation of Minnesota relevant oral health data on the online Minnesota Public Health Data Access Portal. This is the first state oral health surveillance project to add oral health as a topic on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, a CDC state infrastructure project. I am involved in really exciting work because this surveillance project will increase awareness of the connection between oral health and chronic disease and provide accessible data, and health literate information to the public, oral health providers, dental public health, researchers, and policymakers to drive dental public health practice and policy.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

After I finish my degree, I plan to pursue jobs in academia, government, and consulting. My ideal position would be working in public and occupational health research and policy, program evaluation, health equity and health literacy.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

William Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true." I would tell students to be cognizant of their values, passions, talents and skills they bring to the workforce. Pursing a PhD program is a huge time and financial investment. Investigate the knowledge and skills you will gain in the OHSRP curriculum and the networking and hands-on work opportunities you will have during the program and see if they are a good fit. The OHSRP program is a great way to develop research and practice-based skills and provides opportunities for interdisciplinary study. The OHSRP program faculty and staff are kind and resourceful and provide outstanding student support.

 

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Jennifer SaundersJennifer Saunders, PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OHSRP program?

Prior to starting the doctoral program, I worked at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, Colorado on maternal and child health, women's health, oral health, genetics and other policy issues. I completed my Masters of Social Work, focusing on research and policy, at the University of Iowa.

What made you interested in the field of occupational health services research and policy?

My previous academic and work experience has given me a strong interest in maternal and child health and policy. I am interested in broadening this expertise to include occupational health, especially the intersection of maternal and child health and occupational health.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I chose the University of Minnesota because of the School of Public Health's strong research reputation and the supportive faculty. The School was able to support my research interests and offered opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, which strongly interested me.

What jobs or internships have you been able to work on while working on your degree?

It is only my first semester so I didn't seek employment.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

After completing my doctoral degree I plan to pursue a job that will allow me to use my policy and research skills and to combine my interests in occupational health, public health and maternal and child health. Ideally I would like to find a position at the federal or state government level.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I would suggest potential students talk with as many current students and faculty as they can before choosing a school. It felt important to me to find a program that fit with my research interests and a school that was the best match for helping me to achieve my goals.

 

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