Emma Hynes

 When did you begin your Fellowship?
July 1st, 2011

Where is your Fellowship?
I split my time between the Department of Health Services - Maternal & Child Health Unit and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health. 
What were you up to prior to your Fellowship?
Prior to my fellowship, I finished a Masters in Public Health and Masters in Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then I took a year off and taught yoga while living abroad in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I ate mangoes and spent lots of time practicing and teaching yoga. It was fantastic!

What inspired you to take the Fellowship route rather than a different type of job/school/etc.?
I wanted the opportunity to learn about a lot of different parts of the public health system. My current position allows me to discover the strengths and weaknesses of both the state and non-profit efforts happening in public health in the state. I couldn't have asked for a more interesting position or a bigger challenge. 

What are your main areas of interest within public health?
I'm interested in the social determinants of health especially as it relates to women, health disparities and chronic disease. 

What is one thing (or many!) you are working on right now in your fellowship? Please describe.
I am currently working on the leadership committee for the Wisconsin Healthiest Women Initiative. It is just getting off the ground but it is a fascinating project that aims to bring together organizations and community stakeholders in the state to determine how we can collectively improve the health of women in order to improve birth outcomes and reduce health disparities. In addition to the Healthiest Women Initiative I spend a lot of my time right now working on an analysis of the 2011-2013 budget and its effect on women and girls. 

Do you read a public health journal/blog/website regularly? If so, what?
Though I find it helpful to read many different sites regularly, I read the Kaiser Family Foundation updates daily. It gives me a good dose of what's happening at the national level and I learn about a lot of the most recent health reports and policy updates. 

Do you have a public health role model/hero? If so, describe.
I have countless public health role models and heroes. And I'm lucky enough to work with many of them. To go even broader though, I once read that Paul Farmer said that the way to end AIDS in Haiti was to give women jobs. When I read that quote (or something close to that) many years ago, something clicked in my brain that hadn't been there before. In a much clearer way than I ever had, I suddenly started to see the connection between socio-economic conditions and health status. So in some way, Paul Farmer is a role-model for me. But so are all of the incredible people that come to work in obscurity every day in order to make small but important improvements in the lives of others. The work relentlessly on our behalf and I'm constantly grateful.

What is one you would like to see in the next 25 years?
There are two public health achievements I would like to see happen in the next 25 years. I think it will be our generation's responsibility to change the current paradigm around both mental health and end-of-life care. I would like to see mental health spoken about, screened for, covered by providers and insurers and for people to not suffer from discrimination due to mental health. Similarly, I would like to see end-of-life care and death to be spoken about earlier and more openly. I would like it to be considered a natural part of life rather than a symptom to be cured or an unacceptable failure in the health care system. It's an issue we'll some day have to face as a culture due to our escalating health care costs.