Introducing Our Public Health Intern

Faith Thornton

Introducing Our MPH Intern, Faith Thornton

Greetings, my name is Faith Thornton.  I am from Oak Park, Michigan. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University in the summer of 2014. I am currently pursing my Master’s in Public Health (MPH), which brings me here, to School Community Health Alliance of Michigan (SCHA-MI), as an intern under the tutelage of Communications Director Kevin Lignell. My chief task with the organization will include production of best practice guides. These guides will serve as a source of information for important topics regarding finances, confidentiality and community engagement. All of which serve an important role in the mission of school-based health. In addition to best practice guides, I will be blogging regularly to discuss current projects of the SCHA-MI Communications team and other noteworthy school-based health topics. Furthermore, I will be attending Advocacy Day this spring to join in efforts to promote political support and funding that make it all possible.

As for more information regarding my history, my past experience includes work as a Respite Care provider and Home Health Aide for the non-profit organization, Helping hands Respite Care (formerly LAP Respite). Here I gained experience working with children and adults with neurological conditions, disorders and age-related deficits, all within Greater Lansing.

Additionally, within the physiology department of Michigan State I conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Gina Leininger, Ph.D. and Juliette Brown. The opportunity was established by the REPID program (Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health Researchers) and supported by The National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI). Using mice, the research aimed to better characterize how the brain regulates energy. The laboratory focused studies specifically on the Lateral Hypothalamic Area which plays a role regulating activities directly related to weight and energy balance (such as eating, drinking, and sleep). An abstract of my research entitled, Identifying Neurotensin Neurons in the Brain That Regulate the Ventral Tegmental Area, focused on distinguishing neural pathways and connections related to brain regions of interest and was published in the Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences (Mid-SURE) publication at Michigan State University.

My most recent work experience includes my work as a Patient Care Technician and Living Skills Coach at Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center in Mason. Here I work with a host of individuals who have sustained brain injuries resulting in cognitive and physical deficits. Although the elements of my past and current work experiences may illustrate a preference for matters of the brain, I must say my interests span much broader.  Collectively, these experiences have given me a better regard for systems thinking: an understanding of the vastness and complexities associated with health and its maintenance.

In my MPH curriculum I have learned a lot about the factors of health, and how characteristics of the individual are not exclusive determinants of health.  The brain is similar to aspects of a community in that it involves a collection of networks and resources that contribute to the construct of the whole.  Broader causal analysis is needed to investigate the complex factors contributing to an outcome within these systems.  The collection of my life experiences so far contribute greatly to the grand scheme of my goals: my aspirations of becoming a primary care osteopathic physician.  The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) (2016) characterizes the discipline as a system of medical care promoting the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Osteopathic physicians work in partnership with their patients, taking into consideration the impact that lifestyle and community has on individual health (AACOM, 2016). It is a holistic approach to patient care, similar to the efforts of public health, intended to identify and remove barriers to health that contribute to disparities (AACOM, 2015).

In my experience here at SCHA-MI I hope to apply the fundamental public health knowledge that I have gained in my curriculum.  Furthermore, I hope gain a more in-depth insight into communications and mobilization of partnerships that support the organization’s efforts.   Within the realm of communications I aim to aid in the dispersion of information by increasing access and promoting practices that make for the best health care delivery. By broadening my perspective from my usual proximate view of heath care, I hope to better investigate the many facets of health, in order to best serve populations in the future.


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