Edith Paal, MSJourn, MPH
What is your current job title and place of employment?
Institutional Review Board Program Manager, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
What UAMS COPH degree program(s) did you complete?
What inspired you to study to public health?
I wanted to earn a health-related degree to complement my previous experience and interest in communication and science writing.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public health is the study of factors that influence populations’ health and well-being, and of how we can manipulate those factors to improve outcomes, given the reality of financial and cultural restraints.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
My epidemiology studies have greatly enhanced my ability to review human subject research proposals by grounding me in the fundamentals of study design and statistics.
How would you describe a typical work day?
I would describe a typical workday as varied, challenging, and exhilarating. My days involve everything from presenting educational programs, to assisting individual investigators with their protocols, to helping, to the extent I can, the campus’ entire research enterprise run more efficiently.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?
I wish someone would have told me that this is a field I should never expect to master, because there will always be something new to learn.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
It’s hard to pick just one. I’d probably summarize it as we need to focus on environmental determinants of health, while defining “environmental” very broadly – everything from creating built environments that promote safe physical activity, to improving the environment for educating people of the risk:benefit ratio of childhood vaccinations, to creating and implementing policies that improve access to care.