PhD Candidates Meredith Klepper and Ashley Gresh both received funding from The Deans Travel to further their research. One of the requirements for receiving this funding is to put together a short blog documenting their experience after returning from travel. Meredith and Ashley have shared their stories.
I attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting this year in person for the first time. The conference was huge and the amount of content was overwhelming. I had attended virtually each of the past two years, but this was an experience on another level. I attended as an APHA Student Assembly scholarship winner and there were many events I participated in related to this scholarship, including a National Student Meeting with representatives from various APHA caucus leaders, a Speed Mentoring event, poster and oral presentations from Student Assembly members, and the section business meeting, at which I was recognized for my scholarship along with other awardees. I also had opportunities to see presentations from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) colleagues and faculty, including Jon Suen, Brenice Duroseau, and Dr. Lucine Francis. Jon, Brenice, and I attended a social hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and met fellow students interested in public health, including a prospective PhD in Nursing student introduced to us by Sharon Warner.
At the APHA Annual Meeting, I enjoyed networking with my peers and experts in my chosen field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer+ (LGBTQ+) health, including Dr. Kellan Baker who is faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Executive Director of the Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., Christina Dragon who is the Measurement and Data Lead in the Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Kristen Clark who is a faculty member at University of New Hampshire, Dr. Jordon Bosse who is a faculty member at Northeastern University, Dr. Kodiak Soled who is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and JHSON alumna, and Caleb LoSchiavo who is a PhD candidate at Rutgers University. I had the opportunity to speak at length with these near peers and professionals in the field and was inspired by the important work they are doing. The sheer amount of content at the APHA annual meeting was overwhelming but so exciting. I left the conference feeling exhausted but with a renewed commitment to making an impact in the field of public health and LGBTQ+-focused nursing science.
We all know that adults learn best through interactive and experiential learning. Often when we tell someone we’re going to a conference in the medical field whether it be nursing, public health, or medicine, we tend to envision some didactic presentations where we sit and listen to presenters speak about their work, a hall with posters, and a few plenary sessions where key note speakers address everyone attending the conference. And yet, we know that this is not optimal learning. This past week, for the first time I attended a conference in the Netherlands, the International Centering-based Group Care Conference, that centered interactive learning in every part of what most of us know as a traditional conference. And it was FUN. I learned, I laughed, I networked, and I came away inspired and eager to continue my work.
In inspiration sessions, we examined what is experience versus evidence-based knowledge about group care and generated a list of research questions based on identified gaps in research through an activity that had us moving around the room creating human Likert scales and discussing our positions. I helped co-facilitate a workshop that used qualitative methods of pile sorting and ranking to co-create a definition of community building in group care. We brainstormed what is needed to provide continuity of care for the first 1,000 days of a child and a childbearing parent’s life in the group model. We heard from women what it is like to experience group care. People from around the world came together to share their experiences in research and practice promoting group care, and you could see the connections forming as we danced, and we sang at the beginning and end of the conference. The founder of Centering Healthcare, Sharon Rising, was in attendance and you could see that her vision for transforming medical visits has further started to transform how we participate in conferences, and this, I believe is the way forward. To share knowledge in a way that is interactive and builds community so that it leads to a continuation of the work that unites us, transforming health care service delivery and improving outcomes for childbearing parents, their children, families, communities, and the systems in which we work. I am grateful I was able to attend and be among incredible researchers and practitioners that inspire me. And the poster which I took the lead in writing and presenting received the poster prize, which was an added bonus and honor to receive.