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Carrie Poston, MPH

C O P H Alumna Arkansas Deparment of Health Environmental Epidemiologist Carrie Poston, M P HWhat degree program(s) did you complete?

MPH/Generalist with emphases in Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Health Policy and Management (2011).

What attracted you to the field of public health?

Initially, it was the idea of public health education. I wanted to help improve the health and promote the well-being of Arkansans through education, as well as help improve the health outcomes of Arkansas citizens.

What is your current job title and place of employment?

Environmental Epidemiologist, Arkansas Department of Health.

How would you describe a typical work day?

A day in the life of an epidemiologist is ever changing, as is public health. Most of my days are spent in my office, while others are spent visiting hazardous waste sites around the state, attending public meetings, and inspecting medical waste facilities. Some of my responsibilities include:

  • Regulating all aspects of commercial medical waste management in Arkansas
  • Conducting assessments to help determine the impact of hazardous/infectious waste(s) to a community
  • Identifying and evaluating site-related educational activities and projects
  • Coordinating community involvement activities such as public meetings, community advisory panels, etc.
  • Planning, developing, conducting epidemiologic investigations and surveillance, and participating in interventions to improve the risk factors and/or causes of disease resulting in adverse health effects
  • Analyzing environmental and health outcome data from stakeholders, agencies, and other multidisciplinary groups using appropriate state/federal guidelines
  • Raising awareness, increasing knowledge, and facilitating skills and behaviors conducive to preventing or mitigating exposure to hazardous substances

What is your advice for students considering a similar career path?

Find a good mentor that works in the field you’re interested in. They can teach you a lot about real work experience. Also, keep in touch with your fellow students and professors. They will be wonderful resources, as are your textbooks.

What experiences or learning gained at UAMS or elsewhere have you found most beneficial professionally or helped you qualify for what you do?

I think that participating in my master’s level capstone courses, specifically the preceptorship, was an excellent way to gain field experience at a higher level. Earning my MPH from UAMS was a very rewarding experience for me, overall. It helped me build capacity for the Arkansas Department of Health, and it improved my job performance allowing me to be competitive with my colleagues. I also have a bachelor’s degree in health education, and worked as a public health education supervisor during the time I was earning my MPH.

What do you find most rewarding about your work in public health?

Helping and/or educating citizens, as well as entire communities. When someone calls me for guidance or advice and they say, “I couldn’t find anyone else to help me with this issue, thank you so much!” then I know I’ve done my job. The field of public health will continue to change, and I’m excited to be a part of it.