In honor of DIS Recognition Day 2018 (Oct. 5), meet Janine Waters, Chair of NCSD's DIS Advisory Committee and New Mexico's STD Program Manager.
It’s that time of year to recognize the heroic work of Disease Intervention Specialists around the nation. Click here and find out how you can recognize these public health heroes on DIS Recognition Day 2018 taking place on Friday, October 5.
I love working in STD Prevention and there are so many great things it is hard to pick just one. I would say the main thing is the amazing people I have worked with over the last 20 years. Starting out as a DIS and later an FLS, getting to talk with people every day and be a source of support in addition to correct and current information during a difficult time in someone’s life was very rewarding and a piece I definitely still miss today. Currently as the STD Program Manager for the New Mexico Department of Health, I very much enjoy being involved at both the state and national levels. Seeing how all of the pieces fit together and working with incredible people locally and across the country makes my job interesting and amazing.
The biggest challenges in doing this work continue to be resources, funding and work force capacity. Over the years, funding has been reduced across the board and we have had to do more with less. This of course impacts resources and staff retention. DIS are a highly skilled professionals with a large and diverse skill set. It takes a good year to get a new DIS up to speed and able to work independently and, I would argue, 3-5 years to become really seasoned in this field. When turnover is high, there are more new DIS and less seasoned ones to help with training and mentoring.
I love to be outside doing pretty much anything and the weather in New Mexico lends itself nicely to that. I am lucky to live in a beautiful state with that offers many hiking options in addition to great bike trails. Traveling and spending time with family and friends, a great book and a good movie are also high on the list.
Janine started her career in Public Health as a Disease Intervention Specialist and Field Operations Supervisor in Indiana. She gained a great deal of experience of working there during two syphilis outbreaks. She relocated to New Mexico in 2012 and is the STD Program manager for the Department of Health. In total she has 20 years of experience working in the field of STD’s. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition of STD Directors and serves as the Chair of the DIS Advisory Committee.