I don’t know if I’ve told you, but there were/are some pretty big changes happening this summer. You probably have noticed them if you look at my LinkedIn profile, or if we’re friends on Facebook. (I haven’t mentioned much about it on Twitter, though.)
As I’ve told you, I’m back working in applied public health. The consulting stuff, although fun and at times very profitable, was just not for me. I also tutored public health students with their epidemiology and biostatistics. While that was fun and enriching — allowing me to see biostats in a whole different way — it was at times frustrating. I mean, let’s just say that some master of public health students should have never been admitted into their respective programs. (Some, not all.)
The other big change is a move out of the home that we’ve lived in for almost ten years. This was the first house we owned, and where we started to build our lives together. It’s the first home to Baby Ren, and it is full of memories of waking up at ungodly hours to feed a very hungry newborn or because the toddler that newborn became woke up to cry about a bad dream.
Heck, when we moved into the house, I was still just a lowly MPH epidemiologist at a state health department, growing frustrated because my voice and my ideas were not being heard. It was in that house that I sat and felt completely empty because the best school of public health rejected me for a doctoral program and then completely elated when they accepted me the next year.
There are a lot of memories in that house, but now we get to move to a bigger house to — maybe — expand our family a little bit and create new memories. It’s in a nice town with the DC metropolitan area and the Baltimore metropolitan area only 20 minutes away. My commute will be halved while my wife’s stays pretty much the same. And did I mention the house is gorgeous?
Other changes include learning about a whole new set of diseases and conditions beyond what I already know about infectious diseases. Because of my doctoral dissertation, I learned a lot about violence, what causes it and what prevents it. Now, I get to apply that knowledge and expand it into other mental health and substance abuse diseases and conditions. It’s quite the challenge, but one that has been interesting and exciting so far.
Then there are the other changes on the horizon, in the next few months and years, things that my wife and I have talked about and will start working toward once this craziness of buying one house and selling another ends. I want to (still) lose weight. My wife wants to get in shape. We have a toddler to raise. There are places in the world that we want to travel to and visit. Our “to do” lists are lengthy… And I can’t wait to get started.
Change is, by its very nature, stressful and inconvenient. But change is one of the first things that you learn to deal with when you work in public service. When you see trends over time and what can be done when an idea is given room to breathe, change becomes your friend, chaos your confidant.
So let’s get on with it.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
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