As we have done for the last several years, NACCHO provided several full scholarships for local health department disease intervention specialists (DIS) to attend the STD Engage conference and build expertise in STD prevention and control within a broader sexual health approach. Held November 19-22, 2019, STD Engage 2019: Innovate. Impact. Empower brought together DIS, clinic and program staff, and directors, as well as stakeholders from across the country to learn about innovations in the field and discuss how to make headway against crisis levels of STIs.
In this multi-part blog series, our scholarship recipients highlight their conference experience in their own words. This installment features Nancy Mangieri, public health nurse at Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona.
Under Construction: Proud to Be a Work-in-Progress
I consider myself a lifelong learner, but the 2019 STD Engage Conference sent me a clear message: I still have a lot to learn. During the conference, I discovered that extragenital STD testing is expanding, there’s new progress in integrating the message of Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) into partner services, and conducting HIV cluster investigation and data to care work is contributing to the evolution of the DIS role. As I looked around the room at the faces of my national colleagues, I could see that some already knew of this progress while others, like me, were just being introduced to the latest ways the job is evolving. But evolution is what DIS do best; we get creative and adapt to get the work done. So while news and expectations related to evolving STD testing/treatment recommendations, emerging scientific findings, and changing priorities can be both exciting and overwhelming, I take comfort in the knowledge that the people I was with at the conference are equipped to navigate the changing landscape each day to engage their communities and provide the best care possible.
Being part of this conference was a gift and life-changing experience for many reasons. The scholarship from NACCHO allowed me to attend in-person, which is how I learn best. It was great to see new faces, swap stories with a cohort of people who share my professional interests, and discover that I am not alone in my struggle to get it all done. It isn’t easy out in the field, and sometimes it isn’t safe, but it is always rewarding to do this work. I can’t wait to INNOVATE my approaches to favorably IMPACT health outcomes and EMPOWER the people in my community to engage in behaviors that keep them and their partners healthy.