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Alumni Spotlight! Meet Natalie

303955_2286745240899_1119638784_nName: Natalie E. Grinvalds

Current Company and Position: Project Specialist, Emergency Preparedness Planner, Champaign Health District in Ohio

Major: Public Health and minor Nutrition Science

Year Graduated: 2011

How did you get into this field? 
I completed my internship in August 2011 in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. My passion is public health nutrition, health promotion and chronic disease prevention; however, it was difficult to find a job in that area at the time. Being an Ohio native, I found the opening for this position at a local health department and thought it would be good to learn about a different area of public health. Before I found this position, I didn’t know that all health departments are actually required to have Emergency Planners, as part of a Presidential Policy Directive 8, created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Given that my passion is nutrition, my supervisor also allows me to work on special nutrition projects and campaigns in the local community such as working at local fairs and sitting on the committee of the Community Health Improvement Plan. I also am in charge of the social media through Facebook, which is a great opportunity for me to express my passion for Public Health! 🙂

What’s the best part of your current job?

The fact that I have the opportunity to learn about an area of public health that I hadn’t previously been aware as well as the ability to take on many different responsibilities because of the size of the health department(only 20 employees).

What’s the most challenging part of your current position or industry in general?

Retaining and recruiting volunteers for the Medical Reserve Corps(MRC).

imagesWhat skills and characteristics are most important for success in this field/position?

It is really important to take initiative with this position and stay on top of the changing requirements for this position. It is a grant funded position through FEMA, and each year the requirements of the grant change. This requires vigilance on my part. The job also involves leadership skills, as I am often required to educate and train staff and local first responders. I also have to really use my communication skills with a variety of outlets such as local community leaders, media, and the public.

What does a typical day or week look like for you in this position?

A “typical” day can really vary depending on what we are currently working on as a health department. This week we have a First Responders Flu Clinic, which we use as an exercise to test how many people and how quickly we could vaccinate in an emergency, so we have been working to make sure the plans are in place for that. I have contacted many volunteers this week to make sure they will arrive for training and are prepared for the day. During the grant cycle, I am usually working on revising plans, writing Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG’s), or attending meetings with the West Central Ohio Emergency Preparedness Coordinators.

What do you wish you knew when you were a student at IU that you know now?

I really wish that I would have known that it can be difficult to find a job in the field of nutrition unless you are a dietitian. I have plans to eventually finish dietetics as well. I also wish I would have networked more with people in the field.

Any other advice you would give to a student wanting to break into the industry?

My internship at IU Health was one of the best experiences and I learned so much about Cardiopulmonary health, and about myself, as well!. Enjoy your internship and learn as much as you can. Ask questions and find your passion. Don’t make fear-based decisions or doubt your abilities, which is something I have done that I regret. You are capable of more than you think!

What was your favorite restaurant in Bloomington?

That is a very difficult question. I am going to have to go with Nick’s. I know it’s a bar as well, but they have some amazing food! I love that they source mostly locally! 🙂


Categories: Alumni Career Advice

Tagged as:

IUSPH Career Services

Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:

•career counseling
•job placement
•volunteer opportunities
•resume and cover letter preparation
•interview skills
•graduate school preparation

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