Here is a blog featuring Julianna Jones, one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2018.
As a DIS, I wear many hats. I am already a counselor, an educator, and an investigator. After attending the “Going the Extra Mile: Providing Care in a Rural setting” session, I will now gladly take on the challenge of Policy Influencer. April 2018 was the first time my Health District ever had their very own DIS. It became obvious very quickly that my health district was in need of some serious early sexual health education. After listening to the DIS from Wyoming and Vermont I was empowered to begin planting seeds where there is potential for progressive change. I realized that I am the main person witnessing the direct effects of this lack of education, and I can be the one to help my health district take steps in the right direction!
Figuring out the perfect method for training a DIS will always be a challenge. We work with people, and every person is different. We then have to pry into the most vulnerable aspect of their lives. Depending on who you are, the reactions you get will vary, and every situation is unique. There cannot be a perfect formula when there is an infinite number of variables. That being said, shadowing an experienced DIS is likely the most important thing to incorporate into training. As times change and the opportunities to remain anonymous flourish, I think it will be very important to make sure all DIS are kept up to date on different dating/ hookup apps and how to navigate them. Locating people without the ability to use social media will likely hinder the ability to provide adequate partner services.
Being around other people who know the daily challenges of the work I do! As the only DIS covering five counties and four cities, I do not encounter other DIS regularly. During the Jeffersonian–style discussion, I was very happy to hear from other DIS and for them to hear what it is like in Virginia. I got a chance to speak with people who have been in the field for a long time and got some great feedback and tips for partner services. I believe every DIS should attend this conference at least once during their career. The DIS is a special breed, and it was refreshing to be around such an amazing group of people.
Julianna Jones grew up in Washington DC and graduated with a BS in Public Health Education from James Madison University. After college she worked as a Ryan White Medical Case Manager at Valley AIDS Network (Now Harrisonburg Community Health Center- Care Management). Because of her passion for outreach and education, Julianna left to become Central Shenandoah’s first DIS. Still in her first year, she is enjoying her role as a DIS, learning every day, and looking forward to tackling any challenge that comes her way!