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School of Public Health podcast explores ‘depth and breadth’ of field beyond COVID-19

Faculty, graduate students share professional experiences on ‘Humans in Public Health’ podcast

Courtesy of Kenneth C. Zirkel for Brown University School of Public Health
Courtesy of Kenneth C. Zirkel for Brown University School of Public Health

For Megan Hall ’04.5 MPH’15, public health is about more than just “preventing the spread of COVID.”

To explore the “depth and breadth” of the field, Hall and the School of Public Health launched the “Humans in Public Health” podcast in 2021, when the field was receiving national attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The podcast, which invites professionals to talk about their experiences working in the field, aims to “showcase (public health) work and bring the community together in a virtual way,” Hall said.

Hall said that the mission of her podcast is to humanize the public health field. She aims to highlight the many different lived experiences in the field through conversations with public health faculty and students. Episode topics have ranged from responses to the 2014 Ebola outbreak to disinformation in public health.

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The podcast’s inception coincided with National Public Health Week 2021, an annual event celebrating “the contributions of public health and highlight(ing) issues important to improving our nation's health,” Interim Dean of SPH Ronald Aubert wrote in an email to The Herald.

NPHW is also an opportunity for “public health practitioners to connect and share their research with a wider audience,” he added.

In 2021 and 2022, the podcast released episodes exclusively during NPHW. But last month, the podcast shifted to monthly releases due to its popularity “with our students, faculty and external audiences,” Aubert wrote.

April's episode will celebrate NPHW 2023 by inviting current MPH candidates at the University— including Shaw Hubbard GS, Darlene Tat GS, Youri Benadjaoud GS and Sophia Petrillo GS — to discuss their current work and path to public health.

Public outlets like the podcast are important “both to communicate the human side of public health work and hopefully inspire others to join us,” Hubbard wrote in an email to The Herald.

Tat, a licensed pharmacist, wrote in an email to The Herald that humanizing public health and gaining the support of local partners is necessary for the field’s success. “We need to do our part, as experts, to ensure that the message gets across in a way that meets people where they are.”

Benadjaoud, who works as a medical reporter for ABC News, said that “the human side of public health is necessary to highlight as we exit the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We often forget the tremendous work the field achieved during the most intense health crisis we’ve seen in a century — ramping up of disease monitoring, dissemination of public health news, millions saved with novel vaccines,” Benadjaoud wrote. “Integrating the human perspective allows the public to hear the voices behind all of this work.”

Editors' Note: This article has been updated with a new photo and a link to the podcast.

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Ryan Doherty

Ryan Doherty is a Section Editor covering faculty, higher education and science & research. He is a sophomore concentrating in chemistry and economics who likes to partially complete crosswords in his free time.



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