Here is a blog featuring PetaGay Linton, and awesome DIS from the Florida Department of Health - Hillsborough County. PetaGay was one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2018.
One of the most important things I learned at STD Engage was during the “Calling Al DIS. Let Your Voices Be Heard!” forum. I was able to learn from so many DIS from around the country about the challenges they face and the improvements they believe would make a profound change in improving the health of individuals. After hearing some of the challenges they face with different providers, I believe I am now able to build relationships with providers. By doing this, we can get individuals treated promptly and more effectively. Building strong relationships with providers in your area takes the stress of locating patients that keep regular doctors’ appointments off the DIS’s shoulder.
As a new DIS, I was granted the opportunity to participate in STD Engage during my training. With so much to learn, I could not help but indulge myself into as many activities as possible. As a DIS, we are faced with so many challenges that at times can be overwhelming. It gets difficult to take on the burden of others, show empathy, and be understanding and assertive all while dealing with our own personal lives. One new skill that I believe should be incorporated into training practices for DIS is empathy. It becomes easy with the everyday responsibilities of a DIS to forget to show empathy no matter who we are dealing with or what we are facing. Showing empathy to someone can have a greater impact on the future of STDs than we seem to realize. Being in the field, trying to get patients treated, completing investigations, and conducting partner elicitation is all great, but having the skill to build rapport with different individuals could enhance overall experiences with patients. Having someone tell a friend they had a pleasant experience with something can influence more people to try it. The more people tested and treated, the better for the future of STDs.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of STD Engage was meeting so many people from diverse backgrounds. As someone completely new to the public health aspect of STDs, it was fun to learn of the world I never knew existed. Before becoming a DIS, I did not know the work they did, the challenges they faced, and how hard they work to stop the spread of diseases. It was empowering to see people who were passionate about the work they do, despite all the struggles. STD Engage was a blessing that I believe everyone should experience.
PetaGay Linton is a DIS in Tampa, Florida. She recently moved from New York, where she worked in the mental health field. She was a DIS for about 5 months before attending STD Engage. Prior to becoming a DIS, she had no knowledge of this area of public health. She was most unaware of sexual health and how it affects our daily lives. She is grateful for the opportunity to learn along the way and to also educate her fellow peers on the importance of not only physical health and mental health, but also sexual health.