Highlights from the 2018 National SOPHE Conference

This year, GLC SOPHE had the privilege of sending three Executive Board members to the 2018 National SOPHE Conference in Columbus! Our National Delegate, Katie Miller, along with GLC SOPHE Treasurer, Megan Miller and Co-Vice President, Bree Bode were all in attendance, along with our Webmaster, Lindsey Pung-Terry. Read more about some of their favorite sessions and conference highlights below!

Katie’s Highlights:

“This was my first time attending the National SOPHE Conference, so I was beyond thrilled that it was in a location that was drivable from my hometown in northern West Michigan. Because I work in substance abuse prevention, I was happy to see that there were several sessions on the issue of dealing with the opiate crisis (including a “Deep Dive on Opioids”, “Responding to the Opioid Epidemic”, and the closing plenary session, “Opioids and HIV”). Some of my favorite moments, however, stemmed from sessions and plenaries on other topics. In Dr. Patton’s opening keynote, he discussed ways that public health educators can utilize more innovative evaluation methods- moving from a logic model approach to a systems-change approach, and to principles-based interventions instead of simply “best practices”. A session titled “Exploring Research Methods in Health Education” provided an overview of some truly innovative techniques to analyze change, including empathy mapping, strategic frame analysis, and topic modeling. Something that stuck with me from this session was the idea of using metaphors to communicate complex health outcomes and behaviors; Dr. Jean Marie S. Place discussed how a metaphor of gardening was used to discuss perinatal care to a Hispanic/Latino population in Indiana. Other session highlights from the conference included strategies for working in rural communities; specifically, the “Teens Linked to Care” program in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio for substance use and sexual health education and the Health and Opioid Prevention Education (“HOPE”) curriculum in Ohio. By far, however, my favorite session was “SOPHE Chapters: Exploring Past, Present, and Future” on the final day of the conference. From this session, I learned about the many ways that I can help our Chapter be more engaged with the National organization and with current and past members. My hope is that I can use the information to improve upon my involvement with National SOPHE, but also to become a more effective Delegate for our Chapter. I’m excited to see how the lessons learned from other chapters could be implemented right here in Michigan, and how we could share our innovations and approaches with other chapters, to add to the expertise of health educators elsewhere!”

Bree’s Highlights:

“I really enjoyed the National SOPHE Conference in Columbus. Program development and evaluation are key to my work in community. I was thrilled to hear Dr. Michael Patton talk about evaluation. He encouraged us, all public health educators, to use rigorous thinking in order to inform the evaluation tool that suits each particular circumstance best. He advocates that we should avoid using evaluation tools that are currently the “gold standard” or “best practice” because that language promotes inferiority and could be evidence of complacent thinking. Use rigorous thinking to ensure the evaluation method, model or tool is in alignment with answering the proposed research question or program goals.”