Meet Caitlin Conrad, NCSD Board Chair from Indiana
The bigger question is, what is not to love about this field? Everything about the field of STD prevention has totally captivated my interests and my mind. The people who work in this field are passionate and innovative. We see this innovation first hand at STD prevention conferences such as STD Engage and the CDC STD Prevention Conference. The workers on the frontlines of STD prevention have to be determined and creative in order to follow-up on the extensive number of new cases with such limited resources. This field is fast-paced! There are always cases to investigate and prevention activities to coordinate with local communities. STD prevention changes rapidly; we are addressing new threats, like drug-resistant gonorrhea, with the scientific rigor and programmatic planning that our patients deserve. Finally, there are no words to aptly describe how rewarding it is to provide services to communities and people who truly need and appreciate them. Ultimately, it is impossible for me to pick one aspect that I love most since so much of it is so engaging and rewarding.
The coronavirus pandemic has totally upended our world right now. We are working so hard to curb this pandemic while still battling the rising number of STDs. Evolving, learning and responding to the coronavirus, while working on our own grants, maintaining high syphilis caseloads and keeping morale up with staff has been a huge challenge for our field, and for all of us on the team personally. It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that what unites us right now is distance. Not being able to celebrate victories in-person with my team, missing out on important national conferences and meetings, and not being able to shake a hand or work directly with the patients feels crippling as a species that needs social interactions to thrive. The potential silver lining is that once the pandemic subsides, I hope there will be more funding for public health, STD prevention and Disease Intervention Specialists—as we are vital to this response. Hopefully the work of coronavirus highlights the importance of funding all public health epidemics, including STDs, and we see more resources poured into all public health fields.
I am a jack of all trades, so I’ve always got a lot going on outside of work. Currently my 2-year old daughter, Charlotte, keeps me on my toes and is very active as we visit playgrounds around town, museums and toddler gymnastics. She’s a busy bee and prefers to be on the go. Outside of the demands of motherhood, I also love to salsa dance and I founded a salsa dancing group called Rueda de Casino Indianapolis, a Cuban-style salsa dancing class. I manage it with my husband and friends, and outside of work, it is one of my biggest accomplishments. But when I’m not running around chasing my toddler or dancing, you can find me diving into creative things, such as playing board games, knitting, creating things with my Cricut and baking.