Can work in cubicle change your perspective on life? My name is Moumita Dam and I am junior at Antioch College. For my third internship/Co-Op, I started working for Northshore University Healthcare System. The first thing I needed to learn about this job was that there are four hospitals under this organization (Glenbrook, Evanston, Skokie, and Highland Park), as for my work I am established in the Evanston location.
I am working with Timothy Sanborn MD., a well-known cardiologist. He has been working for Northshore for forty years and besides being a great cardiologist, he also works as a public health advocate. Dr. Sanborn was born and raised in Evanston which led to his interest in the community. He cares about the recent issues in his community and wants to change policies to benefit those who are at risk. He has great influence in changing many policies in Evanston, IL.
Dr. Sanborn is currently involved in three different projects. As we all know, obesity is a growing epidemic around the world but also has a very high percentage in the United States. The first two projects are related to obesity; Sugar Show and Fitnessgram. Our target group is the young generation since they are the ones who are at high risk of obesity. Since they are the new generation to take on the future role in the community, the better approach would be by educating them about the current issues. Sugar Show is a survey-based project that shows how much-added sugar is in the drinks that we drink over a 24 hours period. The objective of this project is that after seeing how much added sugar we take in in our drinks, we will be better monitor our sugar intake. The second project is about fitness among youngsters. This project is partnership based; physical education teachers from schools and Dr. Sanborn work closely to bring progress to those kids. The third project is called Tobacco 21 which is basically about raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old (also includes buying tobacco products). Many studies have shown that most smokers start smoking before the age of 21 years old. This is important, given the fact that a high percentage of American deaths are caused by smoking tobacco product over a lifetime.
For my work this term, I have been working on all three of those projects.
For Sugar Show, we are currently working on Phase Two of the project. This part is more intense than Phase One. We have collected data from 16 suburban schools from the Chicago area. I am working on a manuscript to show a connection between socioeconomic status and obesity. From the data we have collected, we have seen that students who come from a lower socioeconomic status usually have a high sugar intake in a 24 hour period which would explain why we see a higher rate of obesity among lower SES people. Those students also have the lowest rate of water intake.
The second project is a partnership-based project. We collect data at the end of every school semester from physical education teachers of partnered schools on students’ fitness. The end goal of this project is to have a higher percentage of students’ fitness fall into the healthy fitness zone. Having more healthy students would mean that we have fewer students who are at any type of health risk. My role for this project was to analyze data that was collected over the last few years. The majority of the work required knowledge of statistics and use of available resources that is helpful for analysing dense data. After I was done with the analysis, I had to come up with a couple of presentations that are going to be presented to the fitness board and then come up with a future direction.
The third project is called the Tobacco 21. The goal of this project is to raise the legal smoking age and also for buying any tobacco product. The hope is that by raising the smoking age we will be able to stop many young adults from starting to smoke and eventually save many lives. Dr. Sanborn is a big advocate of Tobacco 21 and played a big role in the Tobacco 21 change in Evanston, IL. As a cardiologist, he had many patients who had a serious cardiovascular disease and the main cause seemed to be their smoking habit. He personally felt responsible for changing the policies in order to help people. I have created a timeline of every Tobacco 21 event that has occurred for an archive. Since there has been an attempt to change the statewide Illinois law on smoking, this will be a helpful source while writing the manuscript.
I have never been this interested in public health until now. Attending conferences, meeting with board members and other doctors changed my perspective. I started looking from new lenses and it feels right doing what I am doing. I have been involved in all those projects and I am happy that I can be a part of this big journey to make a difference in the community. My working experience on a cubicle in a hospital changed my view. The knowledge I brought to the table has now developed and this can open up more future career paths for me.