For more than a decade, Anne-Marie Coleman has been on a public health mission: to stamp out teen smoking and tobacco use through education and advocacy.
“Working with youth showed me how smoking can be a gateway to so many other unhealthy things, like drugs and addiction, not to mention poor nutrition or lack of exercise,” says Coleman, PhD, MPH and a visiting professor in Chamberlain University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program.
The statistics about smoking are startling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 million Americans are living with lung disease, cancer, heart disease, emphysema or another serious condition caused by smoking.1 Through her work in public health, Coleman has seen the devastation: loss of life, crippling medical costs, lost wages, disability.
As a public health professional, she has dedicated herself to helping break this cycle by encouraging teens to live tobacco-free lives. She has designed programs to educate young people about the dangers of smoking and has worked with businesses to encourage them to stop selling tobacco products.
Choosing a Public Health Career
Coleman is passionate about empowering people to make health and lifestyle decisions that ultimately will improve the quality of life in their communities.
“Even as a child, I saw firsthand with my family and community the challenges some people have either because the health and help resources aren’t available to them, or they didn’t know how to connect to them,” says Coleman, an Atlanta resident who is an active member and former president of the Georgia Society for Public Health Education.
Coleman saw a career for herself, helping to bridge gaps, connect people to services, and strengthen communities. But she thought she’d have to become a doctor to effect that change. That is, until she discovered public health.
That “aha moment” came in college while taking a population health course. From there, she set out to educate herself on the political side of health policymaking, the human side of educating people, and enacting policy to address the social determinants of health.
Public Health Changes Lives
She has used her skills to effect positive social change in a variety of roles, including as a health policy analyst for a state-run agency. She serves as a consultant to policymakers and community organizations, helping to put processes in place at the local, state and federal levels in case another population health crisis or pandemic happens.
Coleman relishes her role as a visiting professor in Chamberlain’s MPH degree program. She works with master’s candidates on their last semester e-portfolio projects—“helping the next generation see the difference they can make in public health while creating positive social change.”
“It’s very exciting, and I am very proud to see the projects they are doing in the community and to invest my time in encouraging and helping them,” she says. “Some of them work in hospitals and are creating or evaluating health education programs that will make a huge impact on healthy lifestyles in the community. Others are with nonprofits and other sectors doing the same.”
As she looks ahead, Coleman says she will continue to dedicate her career to strengthening communities through her experience and work in public health.
“There are just so many things we can do, and I look forward to all of them,” she says.
Honoring Public Health Professionals
During National Public Health Week, Chamberlain celebrates the contributions of the thousands of public health professionals who are helping to build safe and healthy communities through their work in population health, education, advocacy, environmental health, epidemiology and more.
Are you interested in joining them? You can learn more about public health, career opportunities and public health degrees in our helpful infographic.
The following public health professional organizations can also provide more information, and may even inspire you to earn your master’s degree online:
- Society for Public Health Education
- American Public Health Association
- Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Chamberlain’s online Master of Public Health degree program can help prepare you to become a change agent in many arenas, whether it’s community health or global health, as a healthcare administrator or a public health educator. And be sure to join us in celebrating all the public health professionals who dedicate themselves to making the world a better place.
Chamberlain University, an accredited institution, offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs in nursing and healthcare professions. With a growing network of campuses and robust online programs, Chamberlain continues to build on more than 130 years of excellence in preparing extraordinary healthcare professionals.
By Kathy Little
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