What We're All About
Healthcare is often conceived of as something that an individual practitioner delivers to an individual patient. When a surgery succeeds, we thank the surgeon; when a patient is cured of a disease, we commend the doctor who first diagnosed their condition. Yet while both acts are praiseworthy in their own right, neither miracle of modern life is possible without the behind-the-scenes work of public health. For instance, quelling a disease outbreak requires the concerted efforts of epidemiologists, health educators, policymakers, statisticians, and countless others. These individuals might not be present in the room when the scourge of disease finally lifts, but their efforts were instrumental in making it happen. Similarly, just as important as the medical professionals who treat injuries and illnesses are those who endeavor to prevent them from occurring in the first place. We started the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health (UJPH) in order to celebrate these unsung heroes of the medical system. The articles that the UJPH publishes helps to ensure that their work and their importance are recognized.
Oftentimes we consider publishing research as an accomplishment limited to graduate students, but UJPH was built to acknowledge that undergraduate students bring valuable insights to the field of public health and campus community. The journal recognizes the interdisciplinary focus of public health and hopes to engage students in public health from not only the health sciences, but also other areas of academia and practice like policy and the social sciences.
And while our print version of UJPH offers an amazing outlet for students to discuss important public health issues, not everyone is able to pick up a copy and read a full-length article. This blog is our way of expanding the print version of our publication that is more attainable to many readers in a way that continually shows the importance of public health. As a year-round presence, the blog is an outlet for a variety of timely topics in public health. We aspire to be an avenue for students, community members, and our own editorial staff to submit pieces about issues which they feel most passionate about and to engage with the public health community.
As we encourage others to investigate public health issues, we feel we as an editorial board must do the same so, to practice what we preach, we created From the Voices, an in-house blog series. We often write about and publish pieces on global health issues that seem far removed from our university campus, but the reality is that public health issues are pervasive in our everyday lives. This blog series is the opportunity to engage with a more local community and investigate the public health issues that our classmates and friends are interested in or actively experiencing. We hope to reach out to the community, make public health issues and disparities that are experienced by members of our community more visible, and promote change for our local community by initiating conversations. Whether it be through speaking with doulas who provide care to pregnant incarcerated women or international students about their perceptions of the United States healthcare system, we hope this blog series will illuminate the need for conversation and action regarding public health issues that are closer to home. From the Voices will be written by members of our editing team and is an opportunity for our editors to write for the journal and take an active role in producing meaningful content for our readers.
Articles written by non-UJPH members will fall into one of two categories, which we call Stories and Commentary. Both are meant to allow students to share their thoughts on public health issues of any scope, thereby exposing our readers to novel perspectives. Stories articles are personal accounts of your or someone else’s experience with such an issue. These articles are meant to be artful: writers should aim for them to be emotionally moving. To contrast, Commentary articles are opinion pieces that present a unique take on a public health issue. Both Stories and Commentary pieces, above all, should be original: we want to know what you think and how you feel about issues that matter to you.
Reducing gun violence, fighting against environmental racism, informing vaccine policy, and many other pressing public health issues cannot be solved without sharing research and opinions to the community. Regardless of the career path, defending research and ideas to students, public, and people in power is important for undergraduate students to gain skills in professional development and foster healthier communities. We hope that the blog under the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health can serve as a space for undergraduate students and emerging scholars across the nation to share their voices on health issues locally, nationally, and globally.
Caitlin Heenan and Tiffany Loh are Co-Editor-In-Chiefs for the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health and seniors attending the University of Michigan.
Matt Dargay is the Managing Blog Editor for the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health and is a senior attending the University of Michigan.