Inspiring the Next Generation to Promote Public Health

PHX Perspectives | April 30th, 2019


Is the flu vaccine effective?
What are the risk factors for heart disease?
What percentage of adolescents are involved in vaping? And what are the health effects?

The field of public health, and specifically biostatistics, uses data to answer important health questions like these.

Public health aims to promote and protect health for all people. This includes evaluating individual health behaviors, the effects of neighborhoods, cities, states, policies and politics on health—and biostatisticians gather, summarize and interpret that data to make predictions and to draw conclusions that impact health.

Turning data into useful information requires specific tools and techniques that can be learned at any age, which is why I’m excited to be an instructor for the PHX PopHealthExperience, a summer enrichment program for rising 7th-10th graders.

I love teaching young people about the opportunities that exist in biostatistics–because they are often unaware. Students who like solving complicated problems, working in teams and contributing to solutions that improve health are perfect candidates for biostatistics! There is a very positive career outlook and job growth is expected to continue as more and more data are generated each and every day. Biostatisticians will be critical to turning that data into knowledge and action to improve public health.

This program aims to introduce motivated young students to the many exciting opportunities available to them in public health. PopHealthExperience focuses on the sciences of public health–biostatistics, epidemiology and environmental health science–to generate interest among young students to consider new career options.

Students will collect environmental exposure data, analyze data from state surveys, and generate recommendations for action. They learn how to collect, analyze and communicate data to engage and activate others in promoting health—they learn by doing.