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Preventable Differences: Exploring Public Health Careers with Black and Latino Youth

Exploring Public Health Careers
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The New York Hall of Science is working to increase public awareness, particularly among Black and Latinx adolescents and young adults, about the importance of establishing a diverse public health workforce to help create equitable health outcomes for Black and Latinx U.S. residents as part of a five year National Institute of Health Science Education partnership award.

Over the five year grant period we will develop exhibits and programs that will explore public health professions and the impact they can have on alleviating chronic disparities in health outcomes for different populations. We will work with our partners to achieve three goals over five years:

  1. To support a sustained dialogue among Black and Latino youth in Queens, NY and Oakland, CA and public health professionals and epidemiologists who serve their communities, about the COVID-19 pandemic and the professions that are involved in creating effective responses to this crisis in those communities;
  2. To reach hundreds of Black and Latino youth and their families with key messages about the roles of public health professionals in creating equitable responses to health crises through youth programming and exhibits;
  3. To reach tens of thousands of science center visitors nationally with key messages about the roles of public health professionals in creating equitable responses to health crises, through youth programming and exhibits.
Ongoing activities update:

Our 2022 activities included a community needs assessment during which we conducted a series of focus groups and discussions with local community members and public health professionals, as well as established partnerships with local stakeholders.

We conducted four focus groups with community members (youth, parents/caregivers, and older adults) which helped to build an understanding of community members' lived experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and specific public health community needs and issues that members identify as important to explore further. (see image for key takeaways)

Focus group takeaways

We conducted one youth-led Vaccine Town Hall which allowed youth to share their experiences living through the pandemic, their decision making process in deciding to get vaccinated, and provided youth an opportunity to ask questions to medical/public health experts. (see image for key takeaways)

Youth town hall takeaways

We conducted three community conversations which promoted a productive dialogue between community members and local public health/medical experts about what public health is, chronic health challenges in our neighborhoods that were exacerbated or highlighted by COVID-19, and the kinds of public health supports we need to create more equitable health outcomes for our local communities. (see image for key takeaways)

Facilitated discussion takeaways

We disseminated our approaches and takeaways to communities of interest through a presentation, roundtable, and poster at the annual NIH SciEd conference. The poster presentation focused on sharing key themes that arose for specific groups of community members (youth 11-14, youth 15-17, parents/caregivers, older adults) as a result of the focus groups.

Learning from our community

Project Leads | Katie McMillan Culp, Priya Mohabir, Dana Schloss

Project Staff | Franklin Aucapina, Dana Hemes, Shihadah Saleem, Laycca Umer

Partner Institutions | Elmcor Youth and Adult Activity, Inc.

This project was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Health under Award Number 1R25GM142063-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.