Student Spotlight: How Did Nicki Cupit Use Public Health Skills to Promote Safe Infant Sleep at a State Health Department?

By: Nicki Cupit

I had the privilege of working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) this summer as part of the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Graduate Student Epidemiology Program (GSEP). As a GSEP participant, I was involved in a process evaluation employing a mixed-methods approach to answer evaluation questions of the Sleep Baby Safe training program. The Sleep Baby Safe training program, implemented by the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, is a training regarding safe infant sleep for professionals working with families who have infants under one-year of age, and is intended to enhance local efforts to promote a consistent, clear, and concise message on safe infant sleep in an effort to reduce sudden unexpected infant death (SUID).

During my time as the evaluation intern, I entered and analyzed data from pre- and post-tests and a follow-up survey that participants completed while taking the training. I also conducted key informant interviews and analyzed the qualitative data gained through those interviews. I presented the findings of the evaluation to the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and the Family Health Section of DHS. I also created a Key Findings summary sheet that can be used as a recruitment tool to engage local health departments in the Sleep Baby Safe training program. The findings from this evaluation were also included in the technical report I wrote in support of my Culminating Experience for the maternal and child health (MCH) program, and I presented my findings during an oral presentation in December 2016.

Working in a state health department provided me with the opportunity to apply the skills I learned in epidemiology, biostatistics, and MCH courses into a real-world public health setting. Seeing my knowledge come to fruition through hands-on experience was motivating and made me realize I am prepared to enter the professional world of public health because of the knowledge and experience I gained through the MCH program from the University of Minnesota (UMN).

Nicki Cupit, MSW, recently completed her dual degree MPH in the MCH program and MSW in the Social Work program. Nicki was a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Leadership Education in MCH. In summer 2015, Nicki lived in Namibia working as a medical social worker counseling teens, mothers, and families. Nicki hopes to combine her passions for social work and maternal and child health into a career that takes her around the world promoting physical and emotional wellness for mothers and children.

Find out more about earning your MPH in Maternal and Child Health at the University of Minnesota by visiting the MCH Program Page.