Kevin English, DrPH ’13, MPH ’01, Sociomedical Sciences
I direct the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, which is one of 12 tribal epidemiology centers across the country. We provide public health surveillance, community health assessment, capacity building, and student development work with the American Indian population in our area. This includes all of New Mexico, Southwestern Colorado and portions of Utah and Texas. More than 10% of the population here is American Indian.
Most of the time when you see public health surveillance reports they classify people according to race and ethnicity. There is typically a column for Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics, sometimes Asians; everyone else is collapsed into an “other” category. Very rarely do you see data for American Indians. One aim of Tribal Epidemiology Centers is to fill this gap. This is especially critical as American Indians experience significant health disparities, which are often poorly documented. At the same time, Tribal Epidemiology Centers strive to improve data access and quality for Tribes. We also expand upon surveillance and assessment to strengthen the capacity of Tribes to translate data into action. This includes prioritizing leverage points for intervention and collaborating directly with Tribes to develop culturally-centered health promotion and disease prevention interventions.
I came to the Mailman School for my Masters in 1999. When it came time for my doctorate I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Even though New York City may not seem like the most likely place to train for future work in Native American health, I knew the School would be the right fit for me again. I needed to strengthen my skills in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Gaining those skills was invaluable. My coursework and research experience also helped me think about the social environment in which health disparities are created. There is no better place in the country than the Mailman School to gain that perspective. For me, the School’s Sociomedical Sciences Department is unique in its commitment to explore the many intersections between the social sciences and health. It is this nexus where we can find the answers to some of our most pressing public health research questions as well as the solutions to appropriately address and ameliorate health disparities.
I’ve been working in various capacities with American Indians for almost 20 years. After graduating with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree I went to Central Oregon to work with the Indian Health Service as a clinical pharmacist. Now, I work directly for tribal communities in the field of public health. This is a model I really like. It suits me and I am fortunate to have this incredible opportunity.