Friday, July 5, 2024

Season 3, Episode 13:

From Powerless to Powerful: Shifting the Power Dynamic in Public Health

In this episode, we’re talking with Chi Chi Egbulem about how we are shifting the narrative of who truly has power in our communities.

Season 3, Episode 13: From Powerless to Powerful: Shifting the Power Dynamic in Public Health

by Dr. Joyee Washington and Chinonye "Chi Chi" Egbulem

Introduction

Welcome to the Public Health Joy Podcast — the safe space for real and honest conversations about what it takes to transform public health research into life-changing solutions for our communities. 

I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In today’s episode, we’re talking with Chi Chi Egbulem about how we are shifting the narrative of who truly has power in our communities.

This is the joy ride you’ve been waiting for. Join us as we revolutionize public health through research done … with … for … and BY our communities. Together, let’s create our Public Health Joy!

Notes

 

Public health researchers and professionals often adopt a top-down approach that assumes that education, resources, or “expert” assistance can empower communities. The truth is communities already have all the power they need. True empowerment requires collaboration to jointly increase control over the factors affecting the lives and well-being of community members.

To discuss shifting power dynamics and rethinking who holds power in our communities, we are joined by Chinonye “Chi Chi” Egbulem, a seasoned social impact consultant and public health social worker with over a decade of experience. Combining her love for art, politics, and social justice, Chi Chi is committed to advancing equity in communities by designing and implementing effective policies and programs.

Drawing from her extensive work in youth development, community health, and economic development in low and middle-income areas, Chi Chi shares her insights on the pitfalls of traditional empowerment approaches. She also highlights the importance of leveraging our knowledge and privilege to drive meaningful change, the role of mindfulness-based tools in addressing trauma, and much more!

For a fresh perspective on empowerment and the collaborative effort required to foster genuine community development, be sure to tune in today!


To connect with Chi Chi Egbulem:

Chinonye “Chi Chi” Egbulem on LinkedIn

Links mentioned in this episode: 

Public Health Resources on LinkedIn

Public Health Resources on Instagram

WE Public Health

Google Health

Nonviolent Communication

For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit https://joyeewashington.com

Key Points

  • An overview of Chi Chi’s work at the intersection of public health and social work. [02:59]
  • The problem with empowerment: what it looks like to shift the power dynamic in disenfranchised communities. [10:15]
  • Why it’s important to acknowledge and address privilege in public health. [16:39]
  • Different forms of activism and some of the reasons language is so powerful. [22:03]
  • Mindfulness-based tools that can help marginalized communities process trauma. [23:20]
  • How upskilling and identifying your niche will help you find your place in the industry. [26:44]
  • Insight into Chi Chi’s research interests and the power of collaboration. [28:23]
  • Implementation science, its role in public health, and why intentionality is key. [32:13]
  • The joy that advocacy brings to Chi Chi’s work as a public health professional. [35:51]
  • How to get in touch with Chi Chi and take advantage of the resources she offers. [39:29]

How to Rate and Leave a Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and, leave a review! Just follow the steps below:

To rate and leave a review on Apple Podcasts:

  1. Visit the show page at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/public-health-joy/id1646078479
  2. Hit the “+” sign in the top right hand corner to follow the show.
  3. Scroll down to the “Ratings & Reviews” section.
  4. Tap the 5th star to rate.
  5. Hit “write a review” to share your thoughts and click send to submit!

To rate and leave a review on Spotify:

  1. Visit the show page at https://open.spotify.com/show/6ghSN8rXDMefH69AyxFe3e?si=0weLrbwWQNCDSWdq50bOJw
  2. Press the “follow” button right under the image and click the bell icon.
  3. Tap the rating immediately underneath the podcast’s description or tap the More (…) icon, then choose Rate show.
  4. Drag your finger or tap on one of the five stars to leave a rating.
  5. After you listen to an episode, answer the Q&A: What did you think about this episode?

TRANSCRIPT:

[INTERVIEW]

[0:00:56] JW: Welcome to another great episode of The Public Health Joy Podcast. Today, we have a special guest. Chinonye Egbulem also known as Chi Chi. I had to say it slow y’all. I had to say it slow to make sure I got it. Did I get it?

 

[0:01:13] CCE: You got it.

 

[0:01:15] JW: Okay. Chi Chi is joining us today, and Chi Chi is a seasoned social impact consultant with over 10 years of national and international experience as a public health social worker. She uses research and technology to address social challenges related to youth development, community health, and economic development in low, and middle-income communities. So, Chi Chi and I know of each other because we are both consultants with WE Public Health, which is a public health collective, consisting of over 35 consultants and growing across the country who are talented evaluators, trainers, strategists, partners, facilitators, researchers, community advocates, creative. I mean, you name it. We got it.

 

So, at WE Public Health, we offer a wide range of quality consulting services such as technical assistance, training, facilitation, project design and management, evaluation, and all the things. But most importantly, we share a common vision for justice and equity, so we partner with our clients to walk hand in hand, bringing people first compassion-centered and evidence-based design to amplify our public health work. So, I’m so excited to get an opportunity to actually meet Chi Chi, because we never met each other, y’all. This is our first time actually meeting each other. We know of each other. We’ve seen each other around on the Internet streets, but we haven’t actually had the opportunity to talk to one another.

 

So, we all are just going to introduce each other and get a sense of the company with one another. We’re going to see how this goes. So, Chi Chi, I’m going to hand it over to you. Tell us all about yourself and what you got going on?

 

[0:03:04] CCE: Yes. Isn’t that the beauty of networking, the power of networking, just being able to connect and explore the commonalities? So, thank you. Glad to be here. My full name is Chinonye Donna Egbulem, and I do go by Chi Chi. I am a public health social worker by training, but I do wear many hats. I am an entrepreneur. I am a researcher. But like Joyee said, for the last 12 plus years, I really truly have been working at the intersection of public health research, social work, and just using art, different channels of creativity, whether it’s through art therapy, or entrepreneurship to – I really hate using the buzzword “empower”.

 

[0:04:01] JW: So, do I. Like run away from the word empower or empowerment, empower – it gets under my skin.

 

[0:04:12] CEE: Yes. So, I’m looking for another word. But self-empowerment is not – self-empowerment, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say is that at the crux of everything that I do, in the communities that I’m a part of, we’re all co-creating, and it’s through that co-creation that we empower ourselves. That self-empowerment is happening at the individual level, but we’re all collectively working together to make magic. To me, that’s very powerful. Why? Because you don’t often see that in very large corporate spaces or places where there might be a little too much. What’s the word? Like, systems are very valuable. They’re very important. But when there’s not enough representation, it is very easy for those power dynamics to create a very miserable environment, or an environment that’s not so uplifting or empowering.

 

So, I’ve always been passionate about community development. I can’t believe it. It’s been about 10 years since I did the Peace Corps and that truly was when my journey into the field of public health started. I was working in Burkina Faso. For those of you who don’t know, Burkina Faso is a tiny landlocked country, and they share a border with many countries, Mali, Ghana, Togo, I believe, Benin, Nigeria, and I became fluent in French. I gained so much from that very invaluable experience. 

 

However, I realized, to my point about talking about the use of the word empowerment, like, I went there with the mindset of, “I’m going to go there, and I’m going to help poor people. I’m going to make their lives better.” It was very much like, I, I, I, this is what I’m going to do, me even thinking that at that young age, I had so much power to do that. I never thought – it was a very humbling experience. I quickly realized on the ground, you have been trained and programmed to think that in many ways, like, even just by virtue of being an American, that you come from better, that you are better, that you are not necessarily superior, but that you’re more fortunate than, like I said, it was a humbling experience and that wasn’t necessarily the case. That was when I started thinking a lot more and reflecting a lot more and really trying to explore the dynamics between operating within a system and like perpetuating systems that are not necessarily conducive to communities.

 

So, I was working in the field of maternal health, and fast forward to, I think, it was 2020, beginning of 2022, I became a doula. As a doula, what I know now, and I think back on like, when I was working out of the maternity ward, in a tiny little village in Burkina Faso. I remember when I decided to become a public health social worker. I was like, “I’m not going to go to school for public health. I’m not going to go to school for social work. I’m going to go to school for both.” Because I was in a tiny village, and my house was behind the maternity ward, and I woke up one morning, and I just heard screaming. Someone was wailing. I quickly rushed out, went to the maternity ward. I asked, like, “What’s going on?” The nurse just kind of dismissively said, “Oh, it’s okay. She lost her baby. She’ll be fine.” It was just so cringe. It was a male nurse and I’m just very curious. I like to ask a lot of questions.

 

So, that was when I asked, “Well, okay. I mean, how did we get here? What was wrong?” “Baby died of malaria.” “Okay, well, why do you think that she waited so long before she brought the baby and to be treated? Do you think it was a money issue? Or is there something else?” And then he shared, “Oh, well, the baby is a girl. Unfortunately, in these communities, boys are valued as an infant. Boys are valued more than girls.” It’s not that he wasn’t willing to bring the child in. But maybe there’s some sort of bias where it’s like, “It’s okay. Breastfeed the baby. The baby will fight be fine. The baby will overcome.” Whereas if it was a boy, he just kind of guessed or suspected that perhaps they would have brought the child in sooner.

 

I just thought about how disempowered this mother was, and how it really wasn’t – like that baby didn’t just die merely because of malaria. That baby died because of lack of support. That baby died because of lack of empowerment, maybe lack of finance – if she maybe she had the funds, she wouldn’t have come in on our own. But she’s been economically dependent on her husband. There are so many layers.

 

[0:09:28] JW: Absolutely. It’s such a powerful story. We just need to stick with that for more and just think about, even though that was in a different community, here in America, how many women, birthing people, families, go through that sense of feeling like they are powerless, right? When we start thinking about that word, “empowerment”, a lot of us, a lot of in public health have to get their reality check. Somebody’s got to be like, “Let me sit you down real quick and let me tell you, you ain’t about to empower nobody. Because you don’t have the power to do that.”

 

[0:10:14] CCE: Thank you.

 

[0:10:14] JW: You absolutely do not. Because it’s fine to empower yourself. You absolutely have the power to empower yourself. But when we talk about the word empowerment, it means giving power to other people, and then that assumes that they don’t have power themselves. They have to get it from somebody else. A lot of times, especially in America, we have been conditioned to believe that number one, we don’t have power. Number two, that well, when I say we, I’m specifically talking about historically marginalized communities, Black and Brown communities, we have been conditioned to believe that we do not have power, number one. And number two, that we, only power, little power that we can get, you have to get it from somebody who don’t look like us.

 

[0:11:04] CCE: Exactly.

[0:11:05] JW: Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about it.

 

[0:11:08] CCE: Okay.

 

[0:11:10] JW: When we started talking about where does that power come from? Where do those power dynamics come into play? It’s a bigger issue than the individual person. It’s a system issue. Only that people can empower themselves because the power is already in them. That’s what we don’t understand. Power is already in them. So, what we have to do is we have to create systems that facilitate and foster that power that’s already in them. But we can’t take the time to recognize that that power is already there. I’m going to stop, because I’m preaching and I’m going to just – I’m getting hyped. I’m getting excited.

 

[0:11:56] CCE: That’s the enthusiasm and the passion that we need to decolonize these spaces, and there was something that you said that was so important. Sometimes I – I’m Nigerian American, and I actually just recently came back from a three-year tour. I was working at the US Embassy. Started off in Swaziland, ended up in Uganda. Since leaving Uganda, to come back to the US, there are so many people who reached out to me and they’re like, “We need your help. We need your support, because you’re in America, and you have all the money in the world. We know that you can help us change our lives.” I often find myself saying like, “No. It’s one thing to not have resources and to be a part of a disenfranchised community. But don’t conflate that with you being powerless.”

 

What you just said was spot on. The power lies within us. When we collectively come together, whatever community that you create and you build, and that was something that I – even when I was in that village, I just kept on having to reiterate that because the volunteer that was there before me, was not African-American, she was Caucasian. There was also a male Caucasian. When they came, they built big grandiose buildings, and I’m like, “This is awesome. It’s something tangible. But how is it truly improving your life?” Because if that building is empty, I’m not seeing any community building happening, any community action-oriented work taking place, but look at us. We’re outside. We’re sitting under a tree, and I am not talking at you. I’m learning from you and it’s an equal exchange.”

 

I’m so happy that I had that experience. Because immediately after leaving Peace Corps, I then relocated to Baltimore City. And that was where I enrolled in my dual degree Public Health and Social Work master’s programs, a degree in master’s program. It was almost like I had to learn that same exact lesson all over again. Why? Because Baltimore City, as most of you may know, it’s very disenfranchised. A lot of homelessness. A lot of crime. I remember people telling me, “Whatever you do, don’t live in the city. Move to the county, because you’re going to get gut.” I blocked out all of that. I said, “You know what, I’m not any better than anyone else.” I lived in the city for three years. Nothing ever happened to me. Thank God. Even if something had happened to me, it doesn’t mean that like if I was living in the county, nothing would have happened, right?

 

But I remember, I was doing my clinical at a homeless shelter, my social work clinical, and my facilitator was Caucasian, and unfortunately, that was the year that Freddie Gray had died and the police station that was responsible for the death of Freddie Gray, he had been killed by police officer, was literally adjacent to this homeless shelter where I was working. It’s no more. I learned that they have since shut down. But my instructor had this tradition of taking doughnuts over to the police officers once a week, and I remember she said, “Come on Chi Chi, we’re going to go.” I said, “We’re going to go where?” She said, “We’ll go over to the police station and give them doughnuts.” “Doughnuts for who? For what?” It’ll look like coming into a community that is not mine and one of the most disenfranchised neighborhoods in this entire city. I’m going to go walk over to the police station with a box of doughnuts. I’m not berating you for doing so. But you also have to think about what I’m indirectly communicating as a woman of color, who, from this neighborhood and who claims to be “helping” homeless communities.

 

So, through our actions, through our words, is through our movements, I had never done years of just working in these spaces. It just continues to force me to reflect and to really think deep about how words can be powerful, and actions can be powerful. The messaging behind each and every movement and choice that we make.

 

[0:16:39] JW: The other word that came to my mind as you were talking, because empower has been a big word that we talked about. Privilege is the other word, right? Because people, especially people that look like us. Black and Brown people. When we – I say my husband and I, we live in Mississippi, which I already have a whole cultural context of its own. We were in a city. I wanted to go to a new grocery store. It was a new grocery store in a city that’s kind of like a suburb outside of our hometown. So, we go to this grocery store. We walk in. I’m all excited. I’m like, “Oh, they got some apples real cheap over here and some other stuff.” I start walking around the store, and I start seeing other people around the store. After a while I look at my husband, I say, “Are we the only Black people in here?” He looks at me, and he’s like, “Yes. He keeps on walking.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s an immediate mind shift.” 

 

[0:17:43] CCE: Absolutely. How many people, the fact that you have to think about your race when you walk into a space. To your point, space is so powerful. How many people do that? How many people of other races walk into a space, and they automatically think about their race? It doesn’t happen often.

 

[0:18:03] JW: We’re the only two people in the whole store that has to even have that thought process. Then, once I had the realization, then I said, “Okay, let me not pick up nothing that I’m not going buy. Let me make sure we buy something before we leave the store. Let me make sure – don’t say nothing too loud. Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” I’m like, it changes the entire experience. In that particular instance, I was at a grocery store. But in any instance, if I was pregnant, if I was having a child, if I realized that I’m the only Black person in the hospital, if I realized that the nurses are white, or the doctors or white. There’s no one who looks like me. Will they understand me?

 

There was actually another – I saw another video, I think it was on TikTok, or Instagram, or something, where this lady and this happened to me too. This lady was talking about she was in the – she’s a nurse or something. Some medical professional. There was a woman who was in labor, a different nurse, who was white nurse, had put a psych hold on her or something. She’s like, “Why don’t you put a psych hold on this woman?” The patient is an African-American woman. She’s like, “She keeps beating herself in the head. She keeps beating herself in the head.” What was wrong with her? So, the African-American nurse is like, “What is she doing?” She goes in and she looks at the – the patient is doing this. As a Black woman, she’s tapping her hand to her head because her head is itching.

 

[0:19:38] CCE: Yes.

 

[0:19:38] JW: Because that’s what we do as Black women. So, the African-American nurse had to go explain. This is not a reason for a psych. This is something that Black women do. You do not put a psych hold on somebody who’s in labor for this. I had a situation, I was at the gym. I was at the gym and I caught myself doing the same thing. My head was itching. I was tilting my head. There was a lady across the room that was like, she started imitating what I was doing. She’s like, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” I was like, “Oh, my God, I forgot where I was.”

 

[0:20:17] CCE: Wow. Imagine.

 

[0:20:20] JW: I’m like –

 

[0:20:23] CCE: You’re not from Mississippi?

 

[0:20:24] JW: I am from Mississippi. I’m born and raised in Mississippi.

 

[0:20:28] CCE: Okay. But you’re in a new area?

 

[0:20:31] JW: Well, this area that I’ve been in, I’ve lived in for about 10 years now. It don’t matter y’all. It don’t matter how old you are, how long you’ve been here. The privilege runs rampant. The privilege runs rampant. When it comes to public health, if we’re seeing this in everyday life in the grocery store, at school, what does it look like for our public health infrastructure and our healthcare system? What do we expect?

 

[0:21:07] CCE: I recently had a diagnosis where I just, I’m really struggling. It’s interesting, because it’s like, I go out of my way to see providers that are not Caucasian. But to be honest, that doesn’t hasn’t necessarily made a difference. Also recently, it has me wondering, even if you’re a person of color, if you’re programmed, and you’re conditioned to operate a certain way, or it’s a practice a certain way, as a public health professional, or a healthcare professional, how are you not still perpetuating white supremacy? I think that that’s such an inflammatory word for people. So, I don’t like to use that. But systems that still continue to cause harm.

 

[0:21:53] JW: Yes. Oppressive systems.

[0:21:54] CCE: Oppressive systems. Like that, yes. It’s not as inflammatory.

 

[0:22:00] JW: We call a spade a spade around here.

 

[0:22:03] CCE: Right. But I will say who I was five years ago, and I was like, my frame of mind. I used to self-identify as like a hardcore activist and activism presents itself in different ways. You don’t have to be out on the streets protesting, or yelling, or screaming. Even just direct, respectful, honest communication, standing up, using the knowledge and the power that you do have, or the privilege that you have to make an effort to drive change, to me, that’s still a form of activism.

 

I’ve been reading, I have this book up here, it’s called Nonviolent Communication. I really like it. Because growing up in an African household, I think that for me, conflict resolution always meant yelling, screaming, just to get your point across, and the recurring theme that since we started talking, it’s just language. Language, word choice, communication, the ways in which we communicate. When I think about just how much power there is, and just maintaining my calm and being mindful, I’ve even found that my health condition has greatly improved.

 

I think that this is something that like for people who come from marginalized communities and unfortunately, had so many adverse experiences, traumatic experiences, those are the people that I serve, identify as someone who’s a part of that community, and I’m finding so much power in just rest. Resting. Not always reacting. Not always being upset, even when I’m at work. Things that used to make me upset in the past, where I’d just be yelling and screaming and calling my mom. “I’m upset.” She’s like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve changed.” I’m like, “I’m at peace because I don’t want to empower the oppressor by reacting.”

 

Well, I was going to say that now I’ve made like my life’s calling, I feel like is to take that very powerful tool. These tools, these mindfulness-based tools and to use that into these communities and use it as an opportunity to just kind of help those people who are dealing with severe trauma, they might not be able to escape trauma, but maybe they can self-regulate in such a way that help them to improve their health. You’re going to say something?

 

[0:24:42] JW: Oh, I was just going to say one of the things that came to mind was that they constantly use violence to make us – and I’m going to try to say this carefully, to make us feel like we don’t have power.

 

[0:25:00] CCE: Yes.

 

[0:25:01] JW: Because we often say they use violence to take our power away. But we still have power, but they want to – it’s a mental thing. They want to make us feel like we don’t have power. 

 

[0:25:18] CCE: Yes. You’re so correct. As someone who has a background in social work, that psychology, that behavioral psychology. I’ve been reading so much – narcissism is a word that gets thrown around pretty often. But I think that one of the things that people are not aware of is like, there’s such a thing as covert narcissism where you do the bare minimum, you might not call somebody out of character, you might not yell, you might not even say anything crazy. But one slight little, just form any slight passivity, or – I see this a lot in the workplace, and I’m a part of different groups where people are always sharing. Microaggressions. Microaggressions.

 

I think that to your point, once you are able to name it for what it is, then it’s so easy to just like literally ignore it and not associate with it, or allow it to stress you out. Honestly, the joy, I love the name of your podcast. The joy that I feel, just like having gone through all these transformative trainings, and even just the holding space within the different communities, I really want other people to feel this level of joy. So, maybe it’s a good time. Shameless plug to talk about –

 

[0:26:39] JW: Plug away. This is the place. This is the platform for the plugs. I’m just saying.

 

[0:26:44] CCE: Yes. So, by day, I am a federal – I work for a federal contractor. So, I do a lot of management consulting-type stuff as a program project manager. If you’re a public health professional, or an aspiring public health professional, and you’re tuning in, I just want to say that having an MPH or having like a master’s degree, some people have MS, Masters of Science degrees, whatever master’s degree that you have, if you’re passionate about working in the field of public health, my biggest recommendation is to just find a niche. It doesn’t have to be one niche. There’s just so much intersectionality. So, find your niches, upskill, get your certifications. Trust me, you will find your place and space within the industry.

 

[0:27:34] JW: Absolutely. It’s no harm. Like whoever tells you how to become a public health professional or public health researcher, and I even developed a course for students too, on how to become a public health researcher. It’s important for us to have this conversation, even though this conversation went like in a totally different direction than what I had planned, which is the exciting part about doing a podcast. But being able to have those conversations and talking about empowerment, talking about privilege, talking about oppressive systems, having those conversations early in your career, having those conversations when you’re a student. Being able to hear the things gives you a leg up than what we had coming up.

 

[0:28:18] CCE: Absolutely.

 

[0:28:21] JW: We weren’t having conversations like this.

 

[0:28:23] CCE: So many really do miss out on opportunities because they feel lesser than, because that is just what they’ve been told or that’s what their experience has been. But that’s awesome that you’re getting ready to release that course. It’s very important. Since you’re talking about research, I do have an extensive background in research. When I am not working my nine-to-five, evenings and weekends, I am my co-creator, co-partner in crime. Her name is Jean Benjamin. We recently were awarded grants through Google Health to address social determinants of health inequities in communities that we are passionate about.

 

She is a lawyer. She’s a human rights lawyer. We have combined our passion for supporting victims of gender-based violence and supporting Black and Brown women, Latino women. We are working with in partnership with a professor who has a background in psychology at Oregon State University. Very soon, we will be launching and putting out a call for participants. But working with Black and Latino mothers, women who have had any exposure to violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, et cetera. So, I do a lot of community-based participatory research that basically focuses on providing mindfulness-based interventions and using them to improve the health and just physiological responses of victims of gender-based violence.

 

[0:30:11] JW: That is like, when you told me Google Health, I was like, “What is Google Health?” I don’t even know that was a thing. So, can you explain – you talked about the grant that you all got. But what is Google Health? Because –

 

[0:30:26] CCE: Google is so interesting. A lot of tech companies actually have this. Even Amazon. Amazon used to have Amazon Cares. But they recently I think they got rid of that program and they acquired One Medical. So, a lot of these tech companies, they have partnerships with universities, with healthcare facilities. This is a partnership with different academic institutions, where they are – for those of you who don’t know, Google recently acquired Fitbit. I didn’t know this.

 

[0:30:57] JW: I knew it because I tried to log into my Fitbit and I couldn’t remember my password. They were like, “Have you connected it to Google?” I was like, “Why would I connect my Fitbit to Google?”

 

[0:31:12] CCE: It’s the entrepreneur in me. Sometimes people see it as like a bad thing when smaller companies are acquired, but sometimes it’s also like a measure of success. Yes. I won’t go off on a tangent. But I was going to say, yes, they recently acquired Fitbit. What they did was they put out a call for researchers who are interested in working to address social determinants of health. I do have a company and this company basically focuses on providing, because I am a doula. So, I do work with moms and I’m very passionate about working with moms, working with aspiring moms, aspiring parents, aspiring birthing parents, who may not necessarily be a birthing parent, but maybe you’re struggling with infertility, or maybe you haven’t even tried, but you just want to make sure that natural hormone levels are optimal.

 

So, providing these services and just implementation science. That’s one thing that I learned when I was working for the CDC. I love implementation science, because it gives you an opportunity to be practical. I think when you’re working within – in my earlier days of research, it would be like, “Oh, okay. Merck is giving us all these vaccines. So, we’re going to take these vaccines, and we’re going to go to moms who have just had babies, and we’re going to convince them. We can’t vaccinate the baby, because the baby is a newborn, but we want to create a cocoon of protection and we’re going to vaccinate mom and family members.” It’s very rigid and structured, and largely influenced by a pharmaceutical company, whereas – and you can do that research to determine how effective it is. I’m not taking away from that. It’s just one type of research, right?

 

But with implementation science, it’s like you get to be really, really objective and think about how to create, socially construct environments that allow you to implement and be agile, and make changes along the way, and adapt to the needs of the community. So, we went from being like so heavily deep in the trenches of doing community-based participatory work to now more focused on implementation research.

 

[0:33:35] JW: I think is really important to talk about that there are different types of research, right? But no matter what type of research you’re doing in public health or otherwise, I think the key in what I picked up in what you’re saying, and what I do in my work as well, is being intentional, right? Intentional with what we decide to do as researchers and think about the impact of what we’re doing.

 

[0:34:04] CCE: I just wanted to say it because like, I remember when my colleague and I found out that we won, my colleague was like, “I haven’t heard of that.” So, like, for those of you who don’t know what, and it sounds like you’re going to address – you’re going to talk about the different types of research in your class. But implementation research is the scientific study, using those methods to promote the uptake of research findings. So, you go into a community, you run a pilot, and then you gather that data, then you take that data, and then you use that data to now craft and refine your interventions. It turns into like a cyclical thing to reduce any form of inappropriate care.

 

It’s basically presenting you with an opportunity to take that evidence-based knowledge and put it into policy and to practice. If you’re an aspiring public health professional, definitely check out Dr. Joyee’s course, because I think it’s important for us to think about the ways in which we can evolve in the world of research, because so much harm has been done over the years. We’ve got to break these systems down.

 

[0:35:18] JW: We have to figure out a way to change our thinking around research, to focus on what is going to be the joyful impact on communities through our research, and how do we create that joy with communities, and for communities? If we had that thought process when research started, oh, we will be in a completely different place. But I think that’s a really good transition into my signature question, because I got to ask. The people want to know, what brings you joy in your work?

 

[0:35:54] CCE: Sure. So, I am not practicing as a clinical social worker. But I think I find the most joy when I’m just truly in my advocacy mode. I love like just being able – I recently – people in my space, just people – I don’t have to be at work to do work, or to operate as like a public health professional or a social worker.

 

About three weeks ago, I received a phone call, I think, even just knowing that people can call me. I thought of you because like, you just always know what to do. I love helping people. I always knew that I wanted to help people. I like successfully – let me not go off on a tangent. But what I’ll say is about three weeks ago, someone called me they were crying, they couldn’t even breathe. They woke up, they found out that their paycheck had been garnished. I got in the social worker mode and I was just like, “You know what, let me call the debt collectors and find out what’s going on.” I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, not me being a whole social worker, but I’m not like on the clock.” I called the company. The lady was sputtering. She’s like, “Who are you?” I said, “Uh-uh. You need to answer my question.”

 

The reason why I’m telling this story is because, is that not why we go to school? To learn how we can be an advocate, and it just took me back to days of when I was working – I was part of a family stability program. Those things, skills I acquired, working and supporting homeless mothers, I’m still using it today in just everyday life. I think that that’s the beauty of – that’s what brings me joy. Because like, I’m happy to say that within less than 24 hours, we had already come up with a solution, came up with a safety plan, a contingency plan. We eventually found ways to figure out how to get them coins, but because they did it illegally, unethically, is the word. And that’s the problem.

 

When people don’t feel empowered, or when they’re already part of a disenfranchised community, it’s so easy to shut down because you don’t know what to do. You wake up and you’re like, you’re a single mother. You have many kids and you’re just literally living paycheck to paycheck, and you don’t know how you’re going to protect your kids. We were talking earlier about space, and space presents itself in so many different ways, whether it’s the environment that you’re living in, or where you’re working. So, I find a lot of joy in just those tiny wins. Being able to plant a seed and culminating into a win in some level of joy for someone who really has been dealing with nothing but trauma.

 

[0:38:50] JW: Yes. That is so important. If we can work to be that person, be that support, be that advocate. If we can just do it for one person. If each of us could just do it for one person, we will be so much further along. It’s such an important thing to remember, and remember who has that power. As we’ve talked about this whole time, remembering who has that power, that that power lies within, and we can be the person to help someone else continue to foster that power within themselves.

 

So, thank you so much for sharing that. If people want to get in touch with you, if they want to learn more about you, your business, if they want to learn more about this Google Health thing. People need to get in touch.

 

[0:39:42] CCE: Sure. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn. Reach to connect on LinkedIn. My name is up here, to Chinonye Donna Egbulem. Just hit me up on LinkedIn and then once I learn more about what you’re interested in or what your passion is, and then I’ll also just say that as a public health professional, I have a colleague, her name is Vanessa Da Costa, and we recently – in 2020, we co-founded Public Health Resources, and it’s a platform where we share job opportunities, upskilling opportunities. My love language is seeing people of color win and thrive. While it is available to everyone, and anyone, if you’ve been struggling, if you’ve been having a hard time, I mean, you just need access to a resource. Also, follow Public Health Resources on LinkedIn as well.

 

[0:40:37] JW: Well, thank you so much for all of this wonderful information. I had such a great time with this conversation. I don’t think anybody would have ever known if I hadn’t said anything at the beginning, that we had never met each other. So yes, we had a whole vibe going on. I appreciate it. I appreciate you. This is going to wrap up another episode of The Public Health Joy Podcast.

 

[OUTRO]

 

[0:41:04] JW: 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 impact, visit www.joyeewashington.com. This is where research meets relationship. I’ll see you next time on The Public Health Joy Podcast.

 

[END]

 

[END]

 © 2024 Joyee Washington Consulting, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rate & Leave a Review!

Like the podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to rate and leave a review! We would love your feedback and thanks for listening to the Public Health Joy podcast!

Contact Us

publichealthjoy@joyeewashington.com