#UMNMCH student Summer Reid, she/her/hers (MPH 2023) wrote this reflection on how her deployment with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) working with PRAMS Data helped contribute to her career in Maternal and Child Health (MCH).
When I would tell people that I was majoring in biology and women’s and gender studies, people would respond in one of two ways. They would say, “That’s cool, those go well together.” or “Huh, those are kind of different.” Despite their responses, I enjoyed taking courses in the STEM and humanities fields as I found that the two overlapped perfectly during a course my senior year called Biology of Women. I have always been drawn to women’s health and am interested in promoting holistic health and well-being throughout different life stages. It was these experiences that led me to the MCH program at the University of Minnesota (UMN) School of Public Health, where the emphasis on the life course theory has helped shape my interests even further.
My deployment for the 2021-2022 academic year was with MDH working with the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) project. PRAMS is a project headed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with almost all 50 states. The purpose of PRAMS is to collect pregnancy and birth-related data from new mothers through a survey to improve the health of mothers and babies. The survey gathers information on the attitudes, beliefs, and practices during pregnancy and after the birth of a child. New moms are selected randomly and sent a survey booklet to fill out, along with an incentive.
Behind the Scenes
During the time I was involved in the PRAMS project, I saw all that went into reaching out to birthing parents for data collection. When I started at MDH, most of the Child and Family Health division was working from home due to the pandemic but were as active as ever with continuing the project. PRAMS is a valuable resource as it continually collects data throughout the year. The project captured how COVID impacted and continues to impact pregnancy and birth. The PRAMS data can be used to identify trends during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum periods. In an MCH Leadership course I took in the fall of 2021, we utilized this PRAMS data to create research questions comparing trends across states or at the national level. To be able to see the direct application of the project I was deployed to made it much more meaningful to me.
I am grateful for this deployment experience as I was able to witness a well-established program work at the federal and state level. I have seen many connections between both the work that PRAMS does and what I am learning about in my MPH courses. This allows me to engage with the content in a deeper and different way. After having a positive experience of public health work in the government sector, I chose to explore public health in the private sector for my applied practice experience (APEX). I chose to work with the Title IX Coordinator at St. Olaf College in June 2022 to reexamine many of the Title IX resources and procedures at the college. I have found that I enjoyed the policy and compliance aspects of Title IX, similarly to the policies and procedures set forth by the CDC for the PRAMS project. Moving forward, I hope to apply my MCH lens to issues impacting students in higher education including sexual violence, domestic violence, pregnancy, and overall mental wellbeing.
Summer is a second-year MCH MPH student. Summer received her BA in biology and women’s and gender studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She is currently working as a graduate assistant in the Hamline Women’s Resource Center for the 2022-2023 school year. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, staying active, listening to podcasts, and drinking tea. After graduating, Summer intends to enter the student affairs field in higher education.
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