MCH Alumna Success Story—Dr. Bozlak Combating Childhood Obesity

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Dr. Christine Bozlak, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, University at Albany School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior

Dr. Christine Bozlak feels that her choice to attend the UIC Maternal and Child Health Program was “the best thing that could have happened,” because she was given unique teaching experiences, was part of a talented and supportive cohort, and had wonderful mentors who she continues to work with today. After completing her undergraduate and MPH in smaller community settings, Dr. Bozlak decided to do her PhD at UIC partially because of its location. Chicago gave her the chance to work with diverse organizations and communities in an exciting urban environment.

Dr. Bozlak completed her PhD in Maternal and Child Health at UIC in 2010 and received the Peterson Award. She was also chosen as the recipient of the Donaldson Award, the most distinguished award granted by the UIC School of Public Health to an individual that demonstrates leadership, academic excellence, and community service. Dr. Bozlak is now an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany School of Public Health, where she teaches courses to graduate and undergraduate students about the emerging needs of the maternal and child health population, specifically focusing on childhood obesity and adolescent health.

According to Dr. Bozlak, “community engaged research is where public health should be.” She is passionate about community-engaged action research and is working on a book entitled Participatory Action Research with other authors that will be published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. Dr. Bozlak is also collaborating with New York State YMCAs to improve food offered in vending machines, promote breastfeeding, and support the implementation of nutrition and physical activity standards for their child care programs; an effort funded by the Faculty Research Awards Program at the University at Albany.

Currently, Dr. Bozlak is completing an evaluation project with Dr. Maryann Mason at the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) of the Chicago Children’s Museum’s Made to Move Program. She is also a co-chair, with Dr. Michele Kelley and Dennis Li, of the American Public Health Association’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Committee, and a member of the Strategic Alliance for Health at Albany County Department of Public Health. In addition, she is a member of the Leadership Team for the Alliance of New York State YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities grant.

Dr. Bozlak is truly a MCH leader that is providing invaluable contributions to public health practice, community based participatory research, and her local community!

Written by Cristina Turino, UIC Research Assistant and UIC MCH MPH Candidate

Practicum Experience 2014: Chicago Department of Public Health

IMG_7584 (4)So far, our time at the Women and Children’s Health Division at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been very translational to what we learned in our first year at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health (UIC SPH).  We are conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment for the MCH population in Chicago under the guidance of CDPH Assistant Commissioner, Susan Hossli. To start, we gathered quantitative data in the form of vital statistics; this included infant mortality rates, low birth weight percentages, preterm deliveries, and teenage pregnancy rates for Chicago and the 77 community areas. We used the data to identify 18 community areas that have the poorest outcomes and we designated them as “Hot Spots.” These community areas are located on both the South and West Sides of Chicago.

After we compiled quantitative data for Chicago and the Hot Spots, we created a demographic picture of each neighborhood, which included socioeconomic status, overall health, education attainment, insurance, income, housing, poverty, crime, food access, and educational resources. These topics touched on what we learned in the Determinants of Population Health class, a new introductory class in the pilot core (IPHS 494). We learned that health is not only affected by biological factors, but also where you live, learn, play, work, pray, and age. It is also pivotal to understand that factors affecting health run the entire life course, as well as transcend generations.

Following the quantitative data, we prepared a systems analysis for each community area. The systems assessment analyzes the available resources in one’s neighborhood; this includes, but is not limited to Healthy Start programs, FQHCs, Healthy Families, Better Birth Outcomes, family case management, hospitals, clinics, birthing hospitals, WIC, family planning, behavioral health programs, and dental programs. This process was very informative because we gained a holistic view of the healthcare environment in the Hot Spot community areas.

We took Community Health Assessment (CHSC 431) in Spring 2014, and it was the perfect primer for this practicum. The knowledge, skills and tools we gained in that class proved essential for our success in this practicum. In CHSC 431, we learned the basics of a community health assessment: what it is, how the process works, where to find the appropriate and credible data, how to identify priority issues, how to obtain and analyze qualitative data, and then how to disseminate the information to community groups and key stakeholders. Another useful class prior to this practicum was MCH Delivery Systems: Services, Programs, and Policies (CHSC 511). In this course, we were introduced to the concept of what a health care delivery system is. We learned about the service delivery system for women, infants, children, and children with special health care needs. Our cumulative project over the semester was to synthesize and analyze the MCH delivery system for various states.

For a holistic view on the health status of Women and Children in Chicago, it is necessary to have a mixed-methods approach for data acquisition. Quantitative data is important to provide a snapshot of the health status, but qualitative data provides a full narrative of the gaps in access to a healthy life. We are currently scheduling focus groups on the West and South Sides of Chicago with consumers, service providers, and community based organizations. The focus groups will complete the needs assessment, and then a Strategic Plan for the City of Chicago will be formulated based on the data and gaps in services found in the needs assessment.

This practicum has been a learning opportunity since we have seen our coursework play out in a practical setting. It is exciting to see our work with the needs assessment play such a large role for the Department of Public Health. This project was undertaken with the hopes of influencing future programming and decision making within the city for healthy mothers and babies.

By Joanna Tess and Dan Weiss, UIC MCHP Students

 

Meet some of the UIC MCHP students…

Amanda BennettAmanda Bennett
PhD student in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Epidemiology

I chose UIC because: The MCH epidemiology program is nationally renowned for its strong focus on applied epidemiology.  They emphasize both a strong methodological/research base and a focus on making research applicable to real-life public health practice.

Job before coming to UIC: CSTE/CDC Applied Epidemiology Fellow at the Illinois Department of Human Services (2 year fellowship)

Organizations you are involved with (on or off campus): I am a volunteer leader for the Jr. and Sr. high youth group at my church in Evanston.

What’s next: Working on my dissertation so I can graduate!  I hope to find a job in a state health department as an MCH epidemiologist when I am done with my PhD.

Favorite Chicago spot(s): I love pizza in general, and Lou Malnati’s has my favorite Chicago-style pizza.

 

 

TalTalia Salzmania Salzman
MPH student in Maternal and Child Health

I chose UIC because: UIC has one of the most recognized MCH programs in America!

Job before coming to UIC: Undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia

Organizations you are involved with (on or off campus): MSAPH, Hillel

What’s next: Medical School! (fingers crossed)

One fun or interesting fact about you: I like to play jazz blues on the piano and compose music occasionally.

Favorite Chicago spot(s): Nacional 27- best salsa dance club.

 

 

Tamara KozyckyjTamara Kozyckyj
MPH student in Maternal and Child Health and Global Health 

I chose UIC because: Not only was the MPH program appealing with prestigious faculty members, known research and extensive network, but also the appeal of in-state tuition. In addition, Chicago is a city full of opportunities to learn more about global health and attend lectures/conferences and through UIC’s network I would have the chance to engage in these opportunities.

What’s next: Looking for a job that I can be passionate about.

One fun or interesting fact about your: Three days following my college graduation, I road tripped to Yosemite National Park with 3 friends for a week of hiking and breathtaking views before our summer jobs/commitments began. Eager to get there, we drove 36 hours (practically) non-stop from Chicago to our destination!

Favorite Chicago spot(s): Tecalitlan Mexican Restaurant (cheap, delicious, and awesome margaritas), Alliance Bakery (great little study nook), the theater district.

 

 

Yuka AsadaYuka Asada
PhD student in Maternal and Child Health

I chose UIC: because of my advisor and the interesting research projects.

Job before coming to UIC: Clinical Dietitian in Vancouver, Canada

Organizations you are involved with (on or off campus): Critical Dietetics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

What’s next: World domination. Or, more likely, graduate and seek employment.

One fun or interesting fact about yourself: My father is a pastry chef and I am his apprentice.

Favorite Chicago spot(s): Green City Market

 

 

 

 

Save the Children Event at UIC: Uniting for Maternal and Child Health

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Maternal and Child Health Program (MCHP) partnered with Save the Children, UIC’s Global Health Initiative, The University of Chicago’s Global Health Initiative, and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Global Health to host a seminar at UIC on October 14th.  This was part of a three part lecture series where each university hosted an event that addressed various topics related to maternal and child health.

The keynote speaker was Steven Wall, MD, MPH, MSW, Senior Advisor, Save the Children, who discussed a report that was recently released by Save the Children entitled, “Surviving the First Day: State of the World’s Mothers 2013”.

Then the seminar focused on connecting the global to the local, and there were brief presentations by the following stakeholders:

  • Brenda Jones, DHSc, MSN, APN-BC, Deputy Director, Office of Women’s Health, Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Janine Lewis, MPH, Executive Director, EverThrive Illinois
  • Rosemary White Traut, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science, UIC College of Nursing

The MCHP would like thank all our partners for such a great event!  It was a pleasure working with all of you and we look forward to working with you in the future!

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IAIMH Dolores Norton Student Research Award

Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health (IAIMH)
2013 Dolores Norton Student Research Award

This award is presented each year to recognize a promising doctoral student or post-doctoral scholar in the field of infant and toddler social-emotional health, development, and intervention.  The award honors Dolores Norton, known to most as “Dodie,” who is the Samuel Deutsch Professor Emerita at the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago.  Professor Norton has been an extraordinary mentor to a generation of graduate students who learned from her the importance of early child development, the roles of community and culture in early child development, the principles of family support practice, and the ways research can inform practice.  Dr. Norton devoted her research career to understanding children and families living in conditions of poverty and to understanding children and families through the complex lens of an ecological systems framework.

The award provides a $5,000 stipend to support research on an open topic regarding 1) social-emotional development or mental health during the zero to five age period, 2) behaviors, beliefs, and mental health of expectant parents or parents of young children, and/or 3) interventions for infants, young children, or families.   The award is open to doctoral students or postdoctoral fellows enrolled in or affiliated with an educational or research institution in Illinois. Area of discipline is open.

Applications will be reviewed by the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health Research Committee.  The recipient will be chosen based on the quality of the study proposed and the potential for contribution to the scholarly literature and to practice.  The award will be presented on October 25 at the ILAIMH annual meeting (awardees will be notified in advance, and will be given complimentary registration for the meeting, as well as a year’s membership in ILAIMH).  Awardees will be expected to present a progress report after one year that indicates how they used the funds and the progress of their proposed project. Awardees are also expected to present on their project to the ILAIMH membership, either as a research poster at the 2014 annual meeting, or in a brief report in the ILAIMH newsletter.

Application deadline:  September 1, 2013

Application Guidelines:
Submit via e-mail (in MSWord or PDF) a brief narrative description (1500 words or less) of the proposed research project. The narrative should address the following questions:
1. What questions is the study attempting to address?
2. What are the core research methods being used?
3. In what way will the research provide a better understanding of the socioemotional development or mental health of children or the behavior or mental health of their parents in the birth to five period? What is unique or innovative about the proposed research?
4. What are the potential implications for the research for practice or in applied settings?
5. What faculty members are mentors for this research project?  Is the study a dissertation project?  Has the dissertation proposal already been approved by a faculty committee?
6. What is the timeline for completion of the project?  How much of the work has already been done, and how much remains to be accomplished during the period of the award?
7. Does the project have appropriate IRB approval?
8. How will the funds from the award be used? How, specifically, would the funding assist in the completion of the project? The funds may be used to fund all or a portion of the proposed project, such as research materials, software, training on research methods, payments to research study participants.  The funds may not be used to pay for student living expenses or conference travel.

Submit applications to Jon Korfmacher at jkorfmacher@erikson.edu

The awardee will be notified by October 1.

An announcement and presentation of the award will be made at the ILAIMH annual meeting on Friday, October 25, 2013. Questions about the award may be directed to Jon Korfmacher, Co-chair of the ILAIMH Research Committee at jkorfmacher@erikson.edu or 312-893-7133.

 

 

MCH Seminar–Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children

On March 12, 2013, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training program at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) hosted the seminar “Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children.” This seminar featured two speakers: Gail Smith, Senior Policy Director at Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), and a Visible Voices speaker. Visible Voices is a group composed of formerly incarcerated women who speak out and share their experiences with others. A diverse crowd of individuals from within and beyond the UIC School of Public Health assembled to hear these two speakers discuss issues related to the mass incarceration of all women and, in particular, of mothers.

Ms. Smith presented information on the scale of this issue, outlining the dramatic rise of incarceration in the United States over the past 40 years and how rates in this country are much higher than those in other developed nations. The female prison population grew by 832% between 1977 and 2007. About 80% of these women are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, and 80-85% of all incarcerated women are mothers. Ms. Smith outlined how this leads to several unique issues for the children of these women. For example, if a mother is her child’s sole caregiver, the child will be transitioned into the care of another family member or the foster care system. The latter is of particular concern since the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 allows for termination of parental rights if any child is in foster care for 15 of the 22 previous months. She then discussed how everyone impacted by the criminal justice system would benefit from a restorative justice approach, which focuses on healing rather than punishing. The Visible Voices speaker then put a face to all of these statistics as she shared a powerful, personal account of her experiences with the criminal justice system and how her incarceration directly impacted her sons.

For more information on this issue and to learn how to become involved, please visit CLAIM’s website: http://www.claim-il.org/.

 

This blog entry was written by MCHP student, Nicole Gonzalez who also organized this event.

 

 

“We are MCH”: Presentations about Maternal and Child Health

 Learn about the MCH field, our legacy, and the positive impact we have had on the health and well being of women, children and families.

 

The University of South Florida coordinated efforts with the Maternal and Child Health Training Programs to create Prezi presentations entitled “We Are MCH”.  Several MCH training programs (including our program) submitted pictures and quotes that were included in these presentations. The hope is to raise awareness about the field of MCH and the great work that is being done.

 

Click on the following links to view the presentations:
http://prezi.com/rz0qkn_wwzvp/we-are-mch/
http://prezi.com/c7e6u6hpyk2u/we-are-mch-mini-1/
http://prezi.com/wc9jvevjv3nz/we-are-mch-mini-2/
http://prezi.com/kyjdfgl9b17o/we-are-mch-mini-3/