The Dilemma of Rural Health

Hey everyone! It’s Jada again! This week I want to introduce a topic that has become a passion of mine– rural health. In my previous blog, I talked about my desire to become a physician assistant (PA). This career can also play a huge role in improving rural health, which is an increasingly important issue especially here in Iowa.

The public health program has taught me to think beyond the surface level of labeling populations “healthy” or “sick”. The healthy/sick determinants are based on a multitude of different underlying attributes, such as socioeconomic status, race, gender, age, location, employment, etc. One of these determinants that really stuck out to me was location. I remember being introduced to the topic of rural health in a class we have here called Fundamentals of Public Health. A woman from Great Plains, a center for agriculture health, came in to talk about farmers and the health barriers they face. I think part of the reason this stuck out so much to me is not only has this issue been in front of my face my entire life (Iowa native), but farming is such a large industry in Iowa. Farming is all around us here in Iowa, no matter what city you live in.

For starters, let’s look at rural health here in Iowa.

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 10.58.30 AM

This map shows all the counties in Iowa that are deemed “health professional shortage areas” (HPSA) in red. This map is by the Iowa Department of Public Health(IDPH).

Looking at this map alone, shows how big of a problem it is here in my home state. Just about 50% of Iowan counties are shown in red. Let the number sink in for a second. These are the people that will have to drive long distances for a routine checkup. An hour long ride to the doctor. These are people with general practitioners that also serve as their OBGYN, podiatrist, orthopedics,  allergist, cardiologist, etc. When I first processed this thought, my question was now what do people in these areas do in the event they get severely injured or deathly ill? The times when driving 30 minutes is even too long?

The IDPH recognized this problem long ago and has since then attempted to use many different strategies to fix this. They have started many different research plans geared towards intervention and access analysis as well as launching various campaigns (Read Madison’s post about these!). But how does the role of clinicians fit into solving the problem?

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 10.56.30 AMHere’s the answer! This is a map of rural health clinics strategically placed throughout Iowa. Notice how their placement tends to match up with the HPSAs from the previous map?

PAs specifically can offer a big help with these clinics. PAs in these clinics, or in any setting, increase the number of patients seen in a day. PAs can diagnose and treat, just like a doctor which allows for more patients to be seen. In many instances, PAs serve as general practitioners. The National Commission of Physician Assistants reported that over 25% of PAs nationally serve as general practitioners in public and private practices. Although that number might seem small, the profession is a projected to grow 37% by 2026! The IDPH recognizes how efficient and beneficial PAs can be in the rural underserved areas and now offers new PAs large incentives. They offer large sign-on bonuses for agreeing to work in these areas as well as 3-5 year service contracts to pay off student loans. As the number of available clinicians increases, the number of rural health clinics will also increase.

Along with rural health clinics, there are also hospitals known as Critical Access Hospitals(CAHs). These hospitals are meant to serve rural communities in emergency situations, and are often connected to a rural health clinic. There is a CAH located in Anamosa, which is about an hour north of Iowa City. This hospital is also connected to their rural health clinic. A few PAs there work as  general practitioners but also serve in the ER or other departments part time. PAs play a versatile role in bridging the gap in rural healthcare settings.

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 1.13.34 PM   Map of Iowa’s CAHs

Here at Iowa’s undergrad Public Health program, I am able to take courses that give me more exposure to this topic. These rural communities in Iowa tend to be agricultural communities, which also plays a role in the rural health disparity. Some classes I’m excited to take in regards to this include Agriculture, Food Systems, and SustainPublic Health Policy and Advocacy, and Geography of Health.

If you’re interested to learn more about rural health in Iowa check out this website!

Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Check back next week for a new post! Enjoy your spring break!!



Public Health Abroad: Xicotepec, Part 1

Hi everyone! Autumn here! I am starting a multi-part blog series on public health abroad, focusing on a special trip offered by the University of Iowa. This spring break, I have the opportunity to travel to Xicotepec, Mexico with the College of Public Health. As part of a Rotary group trip, the University sends dental students, pharmacy students and now public health students (as of 2018) to do service projects in the community. The local Rotary group helps to plan and execute the projects, and local students even get involved as well! This year, the public health group has planned an activity where we will go to high schools to talk about positive body image, eating disorders and the effects social media usage can have on our well-being.


In order to prepare to go abroad, we have had classes every Tuesday night of the semester where we learn about the culture of Mexico. Some topics that we have covered have included the history of colonialism in Mexico, the role of religion in their culture and the relationship that Mexico has with the United States. In today’s political climate, we realized it is more important now than ever to know the history of immigration patterns, tensions and relationships that the US has with Mexico. We have also discussed what health patterns look like in the country. Making connections between cultures was part of our goal of being more culturally competent before making our journey to Mexico.


In addition to learning about Mexican culture, we have also had sessions on team building, leadership, and what it means to be a change agent. This is so that we can work effectively as teams while abroad. We learned about different leadership techniques and how we can use these to our advantage to make our trip successful. One really interesting discussion was on common mistakes people make when they try to create social change. These included cultural ignorance (not understanding the community you are working with), deficit mindset (only seeing the problems in the community) & the “magic bullet” (seeking only one solution to a very complicated issue). Recognizing these mistakes in ourselves will help us be able to avoid them while conducting our service projects in Mexico.


In just 4 days, our group of 8 students will embark on our journey to the beautiful city of Xicotepec. Personally, this will be my second time visiting the city, but for the rest of the group it will be the very first time that they experience the magic of Xicotepec. I am so incredibly excited to return to the warm, welcoming community and can’t wait to grow the public health project. Once returning to the US, I’ll be sure to share our experiences (and lots of pictures) on the blog, so stay tuned for more!!


Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Catch ya next week with a new post!



Public Health in the Media

Hey everyone! It’s Madison again!

This week I want to touch on a topic that is very important to me – public health campaigns! If you guys have been reading our blogs for awhile, you know that I want to create campaigns for my future career within public health. It’s a niche of public health that people aren’t super aware of, but you see it literally everywhere!

Since becoming a public health major, I have been much more aware of marketing around health. We are exposed to SO much advertising everyday, and it is the goal of public health campaigns to utilize that to educate and influence people. Let’s talk about some current campaigns in the media.


What is The Real Cost?

This is an anti-tobacco products campaign that utilizes some scary truths to educate people on the dangers of smoking, vaping, and chewing. I see this campaign ALL the time (especially on Hulu) and I think it is one of the most recognized campaigns circulating right now. Vaping is a huge public health issue right now, especially because of the amount of teens and young adults have taken up vaping. While vaping has helped many people quit smoking cigarettes, it has lead to a a large amount of people taking up vaping with no prior smoking habit, which then leads them to a greater chance of taking up smoking. Here is the PSA from TRC I have been seeing recently:



Measles Moves Fast

MRI-Posters-Final JPEG

Measles is a hot topic right now in the news with all of the different outbreaks occurring and the different legislation that is being discussed. With the anti-vaxxers being a top health concern for 2019, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) has a serious chance of making a major comeback. The anti-vaxxers have continued to try to introduce new bills to add vaccination exemptions. All of these bills have been shot down, and for good measure. They are also extremely present on social media, running their own informal and uneducated campaigns, fueling the anti-vaxx movement. This particular health campaign above is run by the CDC in partnership with other global health organizations in order to make these populations aware of the importance of the MMR vaccine and how vitally important it is to combat these outbreaks.

Here is a CNN article about the hearing in the Senate about the importance of vaccines! There is a live stream of it, so if you have time, take a chunk of your day to watch the importance of policy and public health and the importance it has on our lives!




Versed is a campaign led by Merck that utilizes diversity and gender to promote the idea that the Gardasil shot to combat HPV is for everyone. In the past, Gardasil has been marketed as a shot for young women to protect them against cervical cancer. While that is true that the Gardasil shot does greatly diminish your chance of developing cervical cancer, its main purpose is to combat against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. By showing young adults that are diverse and male and female, the “get versed about HPV” campaign relays that sexual health and the Gardasil shot is important for everyone. This campaign has received a massive round of applause from people for its inclusivity approach.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 11.32.18 AM


These are just three of the prominent public health campaigns that are circulating in the media today. These are global and national campaigns, but we see regional, state, local, and organizational based health campaigns in our everyday lives. Media one of the biggest influencers in our lives, and most of the time we don’t even realize it. It is so important that we are susceptible to the right ideas about our health, and not responding positively to the wrong ideas. Public health campaigns try to influence our behaviors to improve our health and therefore our lives. They are a vital part of the public health operations!

In closing, I challenge you for a day to just keep your eyes open and recognize and process every time you see a campaign and how you respond to it! Also look for all of the advertisements you see for something that compromises our health.

I hope you learned a little more about health campaigns! If you are interested in more of the campaigns that are officially associated with the CDC, visit this link. You might spot some you recognize!


Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Catch ya next week with a new post!


How Public Health Will Make Me a Great Clinician

Hey everyone! It’s Jada here! As I talked about in a previous post, I’m not only a public health major, but I’m also on the pre-physician assistant track. Today I am going to talk about how public health will give me an edge as a clinician.

First and foremost, what is a physician assistant? A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed, practicing medical provider that works under the indirect supervision of an MD. PAs can diagnose and treat patients in every medical setting and specialty, which improves healthcare access and quality. PAs are required to obtain their master’s degree in physician assistant studies, which on average is a little over a two-year program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 37% increase from 2016-2026 in this profession, which is one of the fastest growing jobs in the nation.

Where does public health fit in? In all honesty, public health could not be a better fit for me and my career goals. My goal is to be the best PA that I can be, which includes me going out of my way to make sure my patients receive the best care I can provide. In my opinion a great clinician doesn’t prescribe lots of medications, a great clinician gets their patients off of medications. To be able to do this, you have to know much more than the basics of your patients. You have to take into account where these people come from, the environment they live in, their cultural beliefs, behavioral norms, etc. Health is about much more than just what’s on the surface. In just my first four classes here in the undergraduate program, I have already begun to take into account these types of things in my possible future as a medical provider. Having a background in public health gives you an upper hand when applying to these kinds of programs because not only does it set you apart from all of the science majors, public health shows you have a 360° view when it comes to the health of a patient. Having an undergraduate degree in public health will give me a foundation in preventative health, health promotion, along with critical thinking and clinical reasoning. Not only does this degree prepare me for a future in this career, it is something I personally am passionate about. I genuinely enjoy my time being an undergrad student in this program, especially here at Iowa. There are many other nursing, pre-med, pre-dent, etc. students that are also part of the public health program here which further provides me with that small community feeling. I see it as another way to network and form those meaningful supportive relationships with my peers. I honestly do not think I could have picked a better program for my goals.

Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Catch ya next week with a new post!


Thinking about Iowa?

Hi all! Autumn here! Are you thinking about coming to the University of Iowa, but you’re not sure what to expect when you get to campus? Check out MY top 5 favorite things about the University of Iowa. I’m sure you’ll see something you love!


1.  The Sense of Community

The University of Iowa has a unique combination of being a Big-10 school with a small town vibe. Iowa City is a town of about 70,000 people with a quaint downtown area and friendly population. Pair that with a large university of about 25,000 undergraduates (which is still the 3rd smallest in the Big-10) and you’ve got a match made in heaven. The university and the city are melded together so that you really feel at home in Iowa City which creates a nice sense of community. We also have a strong community of students on campus. From cultural groups to religious organization to diverse academic student orgs, you are sure to find where you belong at Iowa.


2.  Student Organizations

Speaking of student organizations… let’s talk involvement! We have over 500 student orgs on campus so no matter what you want to be involved in, you will definitely find it. Personally, I am involved in A Cappella, Iowa Students for Refugees and the Undergraduate Public Health Organization. I am also very involved in Dance Marathon. Fun fact —  we actually have the 3rd biggest Dance Marathon in the COUNTRY, and annually raise millions of dollars for pediatric cancer patients at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital across the river. Getting involved on campus is by far the best thing I have done at Iowa, and is something I recommend everyone doing, no matter what school you end up at. It is the best way to make long-lasting friendships, explore campus and even make a difference in your community.


3.  The Pentacrest

Now, there is nothing I love better than a nice summer evening stroll on the Pentacrest. The views of the west side of campus are unmatched, and there’s always somewhere to spread out a blanket on the lawn. You may be thinking… what is the Pentacrest? Much like how other campuses have a “quad” (or 4 central buildings), we have the Pentacrest which is made up of 5 buildings! The main one is the Old Capitol Building, the pride and joy of Iowa City. The Pentacrest area is popular for hanging out with friends, lounging in a hammock, or even doing homework (because YES, there is wifi outside!). There is tons of grassy space with trees all around. It is definitely my favorite place to hang out when the weather is nice!


4.  The Opportunities

One thing that really drew me into the University of Iowa were the opportunities available to me as a student here. First, we are a huge research school, so if you are wanting to get involved in research, there is plenty going on. Personally, I do research for some PhD students in the department of epidemiology in the College of Public Health. Here, I collect data on developmental markers in children born pre-term. Most of my friends have had experiences in research, so it is something that undergraduates can partake in at our school. Another opportunity I have had is studying abroad. The U of I really encourages all students to gain global perspective by spending time abroad. They offer typical semester long sessions, but they also have lots of summer, spring break or winter break programs for people who can’t fit a semester abroad into their schedule. Additionally, there are plenty of leadership opportunities available at Iowa. From being leaders of student orgs, orientation leaders or student tutors, there are plenty of ways to gain leadership skills on campus.


5.  The College of Public Health!

Of course, I have to mention how much I love the College of Public Health. From the friendly professors to the neat study spaces, you really can’t go wrong with this building. I have most of my classes there, so I spend a lot of time there throughout the week. The student commons on the second floor is definitely the most popular hang out place to study or spend time with your classmates. Another highlight is the River Ridge Cafe on the first floor. Here, you can get fresh, hot coffee, snacks or lunch throughout the day. We even get mediterranean food catered in from a local restaurant in Iowa City. Throughout the week, the CPH brings in speakers to talk about work that they have done in public health. There is always something fun going on in our building!


I hope I have shed some light on things you didn’t know about the University of Iowa! Of course, there is a lot more to our school than the 5 things I highlighted. These just happen to be my favorite things. I hope some of you choose to make Iowa your home like I have, and then you can experience all of these things for yourself!


Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Catch ya next week with a new post!


Welcome Back and Spring Class Spotlight

Welcome back, everyone!

I hope everyone had a great break…I know mine was super busy, so I hope you all had a chance for a little rest and relaxation. I know I sure didn’t! I was luck enough to do an internship with the Allamakee County public health workers, work at the nursing home, and take the GRE…all over four weeks! But, enough about me, let’s get to the real topic I will be talking about tonight!

I frequently give an overview of the classes I am in, and I want to give you guys an overview of a very interesting class that the BA majors are in this semester –

Fundamentals in Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response!

This class is all about the role public health plays in responding to disasters. Our professors mentioned that it is often surprising to community members and professionals to learn that public health plays the biggest role in planning responses and preparing for disasters. To me, I don’t think it is very surprising at all. I mean, the whole point of public health is to prevent injury, disease, and death, and a disaster causes all of these. To effectively plan the most efficient and successful response to minimize injuries and fatalities from a disaster is right up our alley.

This class took right off. In the second week, we already did a tabletop exercise with emergency management and preparedness officials from Johnson County. We set up five different groups and each group had their own supervisor and a whole incident command system. In our simulated disaster, a tornado hit the Iowa Memorial Union, and caused mass damage and flooding of the Iowa River. We had to evacuate all affected areas of campus and run our own response.

These kind of exercises are SO helpful for our learning, because we get a hands-on experience that helps us all understand quicker. And it is just more fun! I love that this class allows us to take charge and put our own knowledge to the test, all while learning new things along the way.

From this class, I have already gotten a much better understanding of the policies and agencies involved in emergency preparedness and response. There is a whole network of responders that span the nation working behind the scenes to plan for an emergency. I just think it is amazing how much these people do for our safety and we don’t even realize it. This is just another way that public health is working unnoticed to keep us all safe, healthy, and alive.

Preparedness is so important! One thing I have definitely started thinking about after being in this class only a few weeks is having my own preparedness plan. Think about if a disaster hit you and you were unprepared…don’t you think you would wish that you would have taken an hour out of your Saturday to make a survival kit?

Take this quiz from the Red Cross to see if you are prepared!


Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at:

Catch ya next week with a new post!


Have an Interest? There’s a Public Health Career for That!

Hey guys!

I’m sure you guys all have interests outside of your majors. We all do! I myself have a great interest in graphic design. I love to be creative and design new content all the time, whether that’s for personal use or for someone else.

As a health major, sometimes it can be kind of hard to fit in creativeness amongst all the science, logic, and cold, hard facts that come with health. I think that it is super important to give time to cultivate interests and let them still blossom and grow….it keeps us sane! As college students, we need that break from school for mental health. I realized that early in college, which led me to taking some particular classes to allow for that.

Freshman year, I took beginning ballet as an outlet away from chemistry. I never had the opportunity to be involved in things like ballet when I was younger, being from a very small community with fewer resources like that. I said “why not?” when signing up for it, and it was here that I realized that I needed to allow for my creativity and self expression to blossom during college. I took a basic graphic design class this past spring to get familiar with computer programs that would allow me to create professional looking designs. It was here that I started playing around with the idea of combining my love for creating things with public health.

In high school, I had always seen this campaign all over my school having to do with underage drinking. It was called “What Do You Throw Away When You Drink”. The thought of this campaign came back to my head while considering different things I could pursue in public health. I looked up the campaign and to my surprise, saw that it was sponsored by the Department of Public Health. After more research, I realized that there are whole departments of public health offices dedicated to health promotion and education which would be responsible for creating health campaigns.

Public health is such a unique field in the fact that there are so many different things you can do within it. You can relate almost any interest to public health, which is pretty incredible. This allows us to be truly passionate about the work we do and find a career that we absolutely love

~ Madison

New Ambassador: Jada!

Hey everyone! I’m Jada and I’m new to the public health ambassadors this year. I’m a second year B.S. student and I’m also on the pre-med/pre-PA track! I’ll just be kind of introducing myself in this post.

I came in freshman year as a psychology major, but had heard about the public health major from a friend and decided to give it a try. I was definitely not expecting to become so passionate about this topic but I love it! I love that our program is smaller and you actually get to know your classmates along with getting to know most of your professors on a very personal level. Public Health has really opened my eyes to different health topics and I feel that it gives me a more holistic view on health which will be really beneficial to me on my future career path.

To carry on the tradition, I’ll give you ten facts about myself:

  1. I am from the Quad Cities!
  2. I have wanted to work in the medical field since I was 6 years old (My Mom is a nurse so she definitely had an influence on me)
  3. I’m involved in lots of different things here on campus: Collegiate 4H, I’m in a sorority, I’m an ambassador for public health, and I’m part of the pre-PA club!
  4. I am also an RA in one of our residence halls
  5. My friends think I’m crazy for being so obsessed with country music, it’s really about all I listen to (I was second row at Toby Keith this summer)
  6. I have one younger sister and she’s almost taller than me (She’s only 11!!)
  7. My sister and I are both obsessed with Christmas and listen to Christmas music almost year round
  8. One thing I’m very passionate about in public health is providing adequate access to health professionals/facilities in underrepresented areas, especially here in our Iowan small towns
  9. I’m really excited to learn about US Health Care Systems next semester!
  10. I drink iced coffee even in the winter

I can’t wait to share more with you all throughout the year about me and the public health program here at Iowa! If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me or any other bloggers at


Hi! I’m Autumn!

Hi there!!


My name is Autumn and I am one of the College of Public Health undergrads who will be posting on this blog throughout the semester! I thought I would start by introducing myself and telling you all about the classes I am taking this semester. So first off, I am a third year public health major in the BA program. I am also a Spanish major! My interest areas in public health include global public health, maternal and child health, and social justice. However, I am constantly finding new interest areas because of the wide variety of possibilities in public health, so throughout the year, these interest areas might change a little!


I am involved in many things on campus outside of being an ambassador for the College of Public Health. I am a Morale Captain for the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, which I am so excited about! I am also involved in a service organization on campus where we do work both on campus and in the community. Last year, I joined an A Capella group and I found a great group of people that I get to sing with every week! I am also a member of the Students for Refugees organization here at Iowa. Lastly, I am a Tour Guide for the University of Iowa so I get to walk around our beautiful campus every day, showing my home to future Hawkeyes!


Now that you know a little bit more about me, here is a list of the classes I am taking this fall! Click on the links to read more in depth about these classes.


Third Year Undergrad Public Health Seminar

Every fall, public health undergrads take a 1 s.h. seminar course! This year we are focusing on careers, so we have workshopped our resumes, written cover letters, and learned about teamwork in the work place. We also get lots of time to reflect and write about ourselves, which is a great skill as we go into interviews for jobs, internships and grad schools.


Applied Public Health Methods

This is a class that adds on to the second year undergrad course, Intro to Public Health Methods. In this class we are learning to use a data analysis program, and continuing our learning in different data collection methods.


Health Economics

Health Econ is all about the economics behind health care. We learn about supply and demand of healthcare, as well as how to calculate premiums.


Public Health as a Public Good

This class also deals with the economics of healthcare, however we dive deeper into why society provides public goods. We have dealt extensively with supply and demand charts, and have learned a lot about externalities! This class is very discussion based and incredibly interactive.


The Green Room

This is not actually a public health class, but I love it so much that I had to share. The Green Room is an honors class (but you can appeal to take it if you aren’t an honors student), and the class is all about bringing the community to the classroom. We meet on Monday nights from 5:30-8:30 through October, and we have different speakers at the Englert theater every night! The speakers range from rapper and artist Dessa, to Kathy Eldon, a woman who launched a non-profit in the wake of her sons tragic death. The speakers are truly incredible, and we also highlight local artists and non-profits each night. Members of the Iowa City community come to hear the speakers, and engage in discussion with us students. If you have the opportunity to take this class, do it. You’ll never look at education the same way again.



I hope I was able to show the vast array of opportunities for education and involvement at Iowa. Throughout the semester, I hope to write more about my experiences here, including my study abroad and the Global Health Conference that I am attending this fall. Be sure to follow along with all of our blog posts!!


~ Autumn

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