As part of a scheme run by the Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School, I am currently enjoying the privilege of being a visiting postdoc with the Newcastle City Council Public Health Team.
I have learned a vast amount in my first few weeks. I have witnessed a small team with a large portfolio, doing some heroic work. They deal with everything from the classic issues such as obesity, sexual health, smoking, and alcohol and drug use, to wider determinants of health including active transport, pollution and parks. They juggle the local politics of councillors, which can require a short-medium term outlook, with the priorities of Public Health, which are necessarily long term ones. All of this is done in the context of budget cuts and increased pressure from seasonal issues such as flu, and novel concerns such as Ebola. No easy task.
I intend to use this experience to learn how to make my future research more useful to policy makers and public health practitioners. As part of the experience, I will document my learning in my blogs and in my tweets.