Partnering for Preventive Health Care
Early in her career, Sherry Mirador was disheartened with the focus given to curative approaches in health care at the cost of preventative efforts.
“I always believed in preventive health care and the long-term benefits it would have in the health care field. Over the years I have become very passionate about empowering individuals through education to take control of their health by way of living a healthy lifestyle,” says Mirador. “It was only fitting that I would find myself in the public health realm of health care.”
As a fellow of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), she supported preventative health care approaches through education and partnerships on state and local levels.
Mirador applied for the ORISE fellow position at HHS because it offered her the opportunity to use her previous public health experience after completing her Master of Public Administration in Healthcare Management at Keller Graduate School of Management.
The program at HHS allowed her to choose from a wide variety of public health initiatives to support as a fellow within Region VII. Mirador and her mentor, CAPT Shary Jones, Pharm D., MPH, supported important public health initiatives such as childhood obesity and tobacco control. They were tasked with improving and protecting the health of HHS’s Region 7, which is made up of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Mirador focused on promoting health equity and public health for existing and emerging communities in the four-state region.
Mirador furthered the mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health to “advance health equity and improve the health of all people” by researching effective and efficient evidence-based methods of implementing federal government initiatives unique to each community. She sought out educational opportunities via webinars and community/federal partner calls to learn about the best practices for implementing programs and initiatives, and she performed subject matter research. Her overarching goal was to use the information to develop sustainable action plans to guide the stakeholders in the implementation of public health programs for their communities.
Before becoming an ORISE fellow, Mirador had not realized the importance of cross-collaboration between public and private sectors for health communities. In her experience, many communities struggle with creating the necessary partnerships, and the communities lack preventative measures because they don’t know how to apply resources provided through federal government agencies. By helping to create and sustain these partnerships, Mirador and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health enabled these communities to shift their focus from reacting to health crises to preventing these crises before they occur.
Her experience has produced multiple benefits; however, her favorite experience was expanding her knowledge of public health as a whole. “The partnerships I have attained in the community have proven to be the most beneficial,” Mirador said. She is grateful for the opportunity to build her public health career portfolio. She managed public health programs right after completing her master’s degree, and this experience in public health care will carry her forward in her career.
Her advice for anyone interested in the program is to come with an open mind and be prepared to learn all that the fellowship has to offer regarding public health, the different federal programs and how they are managed.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.