Positively Impacting the Full Community
Lisa P. Stevens, M.D., a Walden University Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate, landed her dream job as the medical director of The Daily Planet healthcare clinic in Richmond, Va., after earning her degree from Walden in 2010.
Although she had already earned her medical degree, the master’s taught her the power of out reach, how to be innovative, and, most important, how to be a community leader. Not only does she practice medicine in her current role, she also initiates and runs innovative programs to serve the men and women who visit the clinic.
In celebration of National Public Health Week, April 1–7, Dr. Stevens shares how she hopes to positively impact her community because of her public health degree.
Q: What is your role at The Daily Planet?
Dr. Stevens: As the medical director, I practice clinical medicine and I start a lot of the outreach programs. I recently formed the Daily Planet Empowerment Clinic to reach high-risk patients who frequent the emergency room. We work with community partners to learn who has been in the emergency room and then we try to call the patients to bring them back in to their “health home.” We tell them to come to us first. Even though we are a federally qualified community healthcare center, we have a special designation for the homeless.
If you come to my waiting room, you’ll see families, people who live in their cars but go to work every day, and former business people, not just people who are drug addicts. I take care of the spectrum. I’m grateful they know they still need healthcare. At Walden, I learned about the social determinants of health. If I keep them healthy, I keep them at work.
Q: What are your future plans for the clinic in the coming years?
Dr. Stevens: We want to continue to partner with our community, other agencies, and homeless shelters. These agencies and nonprofits provide food for our homeless and underinsured patients. I plan to partner with them to provide healthy, inexpensive meals. I also want to create coalitions with the local government and community partners to help ensure we have healthier places for people. Healthier places are not just the doctors’ offices—they are our work environments, schools, and even clean air as you walk down the street. The environment affects a person’s health and ability to work, which not only affects you but your family and our entire community.
Q: Why was it important to you to pursue a degree in public health? How has the additional education prepared you to make an impact in your community?
Dr. Stevens: In medical school, you learn about diseases and how to take care of individuals. And you need to know that. But they don’t teach you how to take care of the masses or how to be community partners. Getting my MPH helped me put it all together: understanding how an issue relates to the whole community and how to collaborate.
Public health connects you to the world—understanding how people operate and what makes them tick. I’ve become a more grounded individual as a result. I tell my patients every day, thank you. I have learned so much about individuals, why things happen, the economy, survival skills, collaboration, and policy. It’s not even about health; it’s about the public. That’s a plus.
Q: What advice would you offer to someone considering entering the field of public health?
Dr. Stevens: Volunteer, always stay curious, and remember to work in different settings throughout your career. National Public Health week is a great way to remind us to be mindful of why we chose this field and to bring this awareness to the community.
Walden scholarships honor public health leaders
In celebration of this year’s National Public Health Week theme—“Public Health Is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money”—Walden’s Advancing Public Health Excellence (APEX) Scholarships will honor professionals who have created positive change through a public health return on investment (ROI) activity. Walden will award a full-tuition scholarship plus two $10,000 scholarships in each of its three public health programs: BS in Public Health, Master of Public Health (MPH), and PhD in Public Health. For full details, visit www.WaldenU.edu/apex.