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Why should You attend the MPHA conference?

 

I have been working as a Tobacco Prevention Specialist (TPS) for over eight years. I had never considered attending the MPHA conference until it was held in Butte, and since my son was going to college there, I saw it as an opportunity to visit him, and possibly learn a thing or two.

 

I was surprised to see a few other TPS’s in attendance. One encouraged me to attend the Business Luncheon, where I learned of the advocacy efforts MPHA has put forth in support of the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program, (MTUPP). The same woman encouraged me to become a member of MPHA and mentioned that the conferences were great networking opportunities, since most TPS’s work alone and don’t always have easy access to allies in the Public Health field.

 

Since that first conference, I attempt to attend every year, because it is an excellent networking opportunity and I feel I have been able to educate others about the hazards of tobacco in ways they weren’t previously aware and can also garner further support for the tobacco prevention program.  I have also learned about the importance of walkability in communities, the importance of vaccines, how to effectively educate our legislators and other decision makers, among other things.   While many of the topics don’t relate directly to tobacco prevention, I feel the overall health of a person will reflect positive habits in their lives, so the more we all know about what Public Health has to offer, the healthier we can all be. 

 

At the 2016 conference, the keynote speaker was an amazing woman named Thaler Pekar, who spoke about The Power of Story.  She asked us to all share stories about struggles and successes in our profession, and it was extremely helpful to hear that other Public Health workers face some of the same road blocks and it was useful to hear how they were able to deal with difficult situations.

 

Doing the same job every day can often cause me to feel unappreciated and that my work doesn’t matter.  But when I attend a MPHA conference, I always come back feeling energized, optimistic and ready to tackle big projects.  Spending time with like-minded people is an excellent reminder that our work is important and it does make a difference!

 

 

Jean Atherly

Carbon/Stillwater Tobacco Prevention Program

Beartooth Billings Clinic Public Health

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