Friday, December 15, 2023
Season 2, Episode 25:
Moving Mountains-Lessons Learned As A Public Health Researcher
In this episode, the season 2 finale, I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned on moving mountains and overcoming challenges as a public health researcher.
Season 2, Episode 25: Moving Mountains-Lessons Learned As A Public Health Researcher
Welcome to the Public Health Joy podcast, the safe space for real and honest conversation about what building a public health research career is really like: the challenges, the triumphs, and all the lessons we learn along the way.
I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a Public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In this episode, the season 2 finale, I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned on moving mountains and overcoming challenges as a public health researcher.
This is where research meets relationship and together, we will find our Public Health Joy!
Challenges we face as public health researchers and professionals can often feel like a mountain. How do we overcome these challenges? We have to learn how to move the mountains.
Join Dr. Joyee on a transformative journey in the season 2 finale of The Public Health Joy Podcast, where she shares invaluable insights gained from overcoming hurdles in public health research. From navigating technical glitches to personal struggles with trauma, autoimmune disease, job loss, and grief, Dr. Joyee reveals the resilience needed to move mountains for others through shared experiences.
Discover the top 5 lessons learned as a public health researcher, emphasizing the courage to confront challenges head-on and the transformative power of being intentional. Dr. Joyee dives into the art of moving mountains in public health research, advocating for starting small, believing in change, and the profound impact of community collaboration.
Be encouraged, be inspired, start small, and believe in the possibility of change.
Links mentioned in this episode:
Season 1, The Public Health Joy Podcast: https://joyeewashington.com/public-health-joy-season-1/
For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit https://joyeewashington.com
0:55 Celebrating YOU!
03:12 Celebrating 25 episodes
04:38 The story behind creating The Public Health Joy Podcast
09:03 Overcoming challenges in public health research and career development.
13:47 Facing challenges, collaboration, and community involvement in public health
14:24 Top 5 lessons learned to overcoming challenges
22:10 Shifting the narrative in public health research
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00:55 Before we even get started, I need to tell you something. I’m proud of you. You know why? Because you are here and you made it. It’s the end of the year and you made it. This year took you through some thangs. To be honest the last 3-4 years have been indescribable, unprecedented and you are still here. I know it wasn’t easy. You have had more than your fair share of challenges and despite it all you are still here. There are folks in your circle, friends and family, who have no idea the internal struggle you have been battling. They have no idea the external forces you have been fighting. But I want to take this time and recognize that you are still here, We need you. We so desperately need you. So take this moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, feel your body, feel your presence in this moment, embrace every part of you, be still, and know that you are still here. Thank you for being here and choosing to be here with me.
03:12 I am so excited that you joined me for this very special episode of the public health joy podcast. And the reason this episode is so special is because this is the final episode of season 2. We are now 25 episodes strong this season. And this is why 25 episode is so amazing because to be honest with you when I decided to start this podcast, I literally had not a clue what I was doing, and it might not feel like that to you (I’ve grown a lot in this year and you don’t always get to see what is happening behind the scenes) but you know that on this podcast, in this space, we are honest and we are transparent, right, you know I’m not gonna lie to you. OK I’m gonna tell you the truth and the truth is I wasn’t so sure about this podcast idea and I’m gonna tell you the story about how this all started and how we got here, how we got to this point.
04:46 So in 2022 I was doing some events on Twitter Spaces and if you’re not familiar with Twitter spaces and this is before we came to the whole X thing and Elon musk and all that. But Twitter Spaces was the audio component of the app, so you can have conversations with people directly through the Twitter platform. So I was hosting events where we were having public health career conversations. But one particular day, I had scheduled a conversation, I believe it was in March 2022. And Twitter spaces is set up so that you can automatically record the conversation right in the app and then it would be available for replay on Twitter for 30 days. Well, apparently I don’t know if something went wrong, if there was a glitch in the matrix or what happened but it was about five minutes before we were supposed to start this event, and the recording feature was not working. That left me in a little bit of a pickle and I won’t say I started to panic, but I was very concerned because I had done the work to promote this event. I had hosted a couple of these before with excellent turnout so I knew I had to be ready for the people, and I need it to have a way for folks to access the replay. These conversations were so good that I wanted people to have access to the recordings to listen to later.
06:57 But I calmed myself down, and I reminded myself you know what you are a problem solver you can figure this thing out, so I quickly came up with a plan to put my phone next to my computer and figure out a way to record the conversation through my computer, it was a fiasco behind the scenes thank goodness no one could see me scrambling, but I was able to figure it out and that was cool but then came the next problem. Once I had gotten through the conversation, I had it recorded, so I had a copy of it but then I thought, how in the world am I going to put this out for people to access this recording to listen to later? The only solution that I could think of was to turn this conversation into a podcast.
08:13 And in that moment, I said, I don’t know the first thing about podcasting. But I knew I had some folks in my corner and this is why it’s so important to have people you trust and people you can go to. I’m talking about building those relationships before you need them. I have some folks who I knew who were into podcasting and I started calling around and I said I need to get this recording out. The only way I can think about how to do it is by turning it into a podcast. I need to get this out by tomorrow. What do I do?
09:06 And let me tell you, my people came through with a crash course on everything from podcasting platforms and how to create a intro, and choose music, and edit, create graphics, how to publish the podcast and In less than 24 hours The Public Health Joy Podcast was born.
09:41 After that moment, I said to myself, well I guess now I have a podcast, I guess I better figure out what to do with it next. I spent the rest of 2022, repurposing my other Twitter Spaces conversations as episodes for season 1 of the podcast. The more I put the podcast out there, I had people telling me how much these episodes resonated with them, they felt like they weren’t the only one going through these challenges, and they were feeling seen and heard, and there was this safe space to discuss all the things we were facing on our public health journey in a way that we might not get to talk about otherwise.
10:43 I started reflecting on my own public health research journey and all the challenges I had faced both personal and professional from traumatic experiences of grad school, trying to understand what path I should take in my career, being diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease, being laid off from my job, going through my dissertation in the middle of a global pandemic, grieving and experiencing loss of loved ones. I’m dealing with all of this on top of just trying to live my life, live my passion and my purpose, to build my community up in a way that we deserve. Public health is my calling, my assignment, but I tell you one thing, the challenges we face as public health researchers and professionals can feel like mountains that often feel insurmountable. As soon as you overcome one mountain, here is the next big mountain stopping you right in your tracks.
12:19 And then we start asking ourselves those questions, why did I even do this, how much more can I take, is this even really right for me, maybe I made the wrong choice, am I even needed here. That doubt starts seeping in and it can easily take us a dark place. I know it certainly has happened to me. But I was scrolling Instagram recently and I saw this post that said, “Maybe You’ve been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved”.
I had to sit with that statement for a while.
13:18 My journey as a Public Health Researcher and Entrepreneur has required me to understand my assignment and my calling. Transforming public health research into life changing public health solutions is no easy task. But I’m doing what I can to overcome the challenges and help move this mountain so our communities can achieve the optimal state of health and well-being we deserve. Having this type of calling on my life means I’ve had to learn some lessons especially this year. I’m not the same person who started 2023 and neither are you. We’ve been through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Through all the challenges I’ve faced in 2023 and over the last 3-4 years here are the top 5 lessons I learned. Trust me, there’s more, but I’m only going to give you 5 right now:
14:35 So number one, we need to acknowledge that the challenges exist. We can’t afford ignore it. Sweeping challenges under the rug and acting like it’s not there will only lead to growing problems. If we want to move in the right direction, then we need to make sure that we are ready face these challenges head on. That can look different depending on the circumstance. When we ignore a problem or a challenge, it also gets in the way of our collective healing. Acknowledging the challenge, provides some space to dissect, understand the nuances, and strategize for effective solutions, but here’s the thing, which brings me to point #2
15:38 We don’t have all the answers. We do not have all the answers and that is ok. We aren’t meant to have all the answers. Answers alone don’t always lead to solutions. Think back to your least favorite math class. It might have been 3rd grade long division, high school algebra, college calculus class (my particular least favorite), or even that master of public health biostatistics class that is always such a beast. Remember, coming across a math problem in that class on your homework that just stumped you. You could not figure out what the answer was. And then you look to see if the answer is in the back of the book. If you’re lucky, that math problem was an odd number and it’s in the back of the book. But having that answer still didn’t always help you, because the teacher said those infamous three words: SHOW YOUR WORK! It’s not enough to have the answer, we have to be engaged in the work to show how we arrive at the answer. Solutions require a process. And there can be multiple ways or solutions to get to the same answer. It’s the same way in our public health research. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we don’t. But having the answer to all our public health problems won’t help us alone. We have to be willing to explore different solutions and go through the process to arrive at the answers that are out there. That brings me point number 3.
18:18 We cannot move this mountain alone. We need all hands on deck, including you. The mountains are too big, the challenges are too great. We need every voice, particularly our community voices need to be lifted above all else. Because we’ve wasted too much time trying to move this mountain without them when they clearly know what would be best for them. We must focus on collaboration, partnerships, and networking while simultaneously dismantling the power dynamics that have harmed our communities for so long. That means we have got to tap in to our communities in a way that maybe we haven’t done before. And it won’t be a quick process. Let’s talk about point number four.
19:25 We cannot move this mountain overnight. An African proverb says, “If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today.” We have to realize that we didn’t get here overnight. We have spent centuries under oppressive systems and powers. While we may want to burn everything down and start over, we have to realize is that in order to move this mountain we have to start with the smallest steps and actions. Getting overwhelmed won’t take us there any faster, in fact it will slow us down. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes collaboration. It starts by lifting one stone at a time. The mountain can only begin to move if we start today. Start by finding out who is in your community, talk to the local people, build relationships, find out what is important to them, what has been their experience, how do they see their own community. This strategy will take us further than our wildest dreams. And my last point, point number 5.
21:19 We have to believe that moving this mountain is possible. Just because the mountain can’t be moved overnight and we don’t have all the answers, doesn’t mean it can’t be moved it all. Being in public health takes some faith, some hope, believing in what may seem impossible. Once we start believing in something, there is an energy that shifts, we start to gain momentum. We start thinking a change can actually happen. If we don’t believe, we won’t put in the work to see that change happen.
22:10 One of my biggest mountains this year as a public health researcher and entrepreneur has been this podcast. When I wrapped up season 1 in 2022 (remember that was by accident), I had to start thinking what would this podcast look like for the future. I wanted to provide a space for public health researchers and professionals like you and me to have this safe space where our voices could be heard and our stories could be told our way. I started 2023 saying I want to do this podcast with intentionality. I want to shift the atmosphere and change the narrative in public health research with this podcast.
23:14 It’s a lot of work, I had to acknowledge that I was taking on a huge challenge. To have discussions in a way that haven’t been had before. To use my voice and speak up on issues that affect my community. I had to know I didn’t have all the answers, but I needed to put in the work to arrive to the solutions. I needed to pull in the people in this field. I needed to collaborate and partner with people I had never met and who were so loving and kind and accepted me and what I was trying to do. I have so many growing relationships that I didn’t have at the beginning of 2023. I recognized that this podcast wasn’t going to grow overnight. It’s the long-game. This podcast is one stone to help us move toward a bigger goal. I absolutely believe we can change the narrative and the future of public health research starting by sharing one story at a time.
24:49 I believed that you would listen to our stories. Seeing how you joined us for this Joy Ride and showed us love has been nothing short of amazing. The power of community should never be underestimated.
I’m proud of myself for believing in the vision for this podcast, but I’m even more proud of how you stuck by me, believed in me, and supported me. I could not have moved this mountain without you. I can’t say it enough….THANK YOU!
I am so grateful for this time we got to spend together. If you enjoyed this episode, I need you to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impacts, visit www.joyeewashington.com. This is where research meets relationship. I’ll see you next time on The Public Health Joy podcast.
© 2023 Joyee Washington Consulting, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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