Andrew Jamison ’22 — In my first week at the health department, I scribed for vaccines, administered COVID tests, trapped mosquitos, performed food inspections, and worked on special projects about mental health and substance abuse. I was astonished to see how much the health department was responsible for. I learned about preventative strategies used to improve health for all. I call this “the other side” of healthcare, as many picture only a doctor’s office; however, there is much going on at a public health level that is not seen. I enjoy sharing my experiences to others, especially about why we collect mosquitos. People are always shocked until they learn all I know, or in their words, too much about mosquitos.
Speaking to a Hispanic man during a covid test opened my eyes to caring for the underserved. He was immediately more comfortable, even though I was more nervous as I used my Spanish for the first time in this setting. It was an exciting thing to know that what I had been working on had finally paid off and I was actually using my Spanish in a useful way. I also witnessed how the Hispanic community was underserved locally as well as the lack of Spanish speakers available to help in this situation. Learning about social determinants of health and witnessing it are two different experiences. On my first home unfit for human habitation walkthrough, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could immediately see the privilege that I grew up with. I don’t know that I would be where I am today while having to deal with the stressors of that environment. The people living in the home didn’t have or didn’t know of resources to help. I thought back to one of the sayings that said your zip code is more important than your genetic code in determining your health. I saw how vectors of disease, lack of access to physicians, and generational unhealthy behaviors in the surrounding community all contribute