Physicians Need Training in Public Health Issues and Protocols [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Sylvia_Morris_physicians_public_health_trainingGuest: Dr. Sylvia Morris
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Sylvia E. Morris received her M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine and Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A former assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, she is currently an independent healthcare consultant and a community health advocate. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Morris cares for hospitalized patients with a variety of conditions. Some of her areas of expertise include: hospital medicine, preventive medicine, holistic medicine, and internal medicine – including chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Segment overview: Dr. Sylvia Morris, MD, discusses public health training for physicians.


Health Professional Radio – Public Health Training
Neal Howard:   Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. In studio today with us is Dr. Sylvia E. Morris, received her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine, her Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She’s a former assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, currently independent health care consultant and community health advocate as well. She’s in studio today with us to talk about the public health training for physicians. How are you doing this afternoon Dr. Morris?

Dr. Sylvia Morris:   I’m doing quite well. Thank you very much.

N:   Thank you so much for returning with us today. Public health as opposed to any other health, what exactly is public health and how it is differ from general health?

M:   You know all health is local. When you think about drinking water, which certainly has been in the news recently (crosstalk), that’s public health. When we talk about clean air and safe playground and preventing infectious disease whether it’s TB (tuberculosis) or Zika which is certainly in the news currently. Public health is really about advocating for the health of a community.

N:   In every community that I’ve been and you’ve got your health department. These departments are normally State or City run, is that correct?

M:   Yes, there’s usually a city and or county, definitely a state and then we have a federal branch for that. I always like to look at the Center for Disease Control, think of that as Federal Public Health but also the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and there’s …I can go on and on with the acronyms, but yes.

N:   One might think that the hospital is concerned with the entire public as is the learning school associated with the university. But to be correct or to be perfectly clear public health has to do with the administration, the funding? Is that correct or deeper still?

M:   It is much deeper than that. If you think about public health are all of the things that we don’t think about. Certainly I mentioned water previously but whether it is a vaccination, whether it is emergency preparedness in the event of a hurricane, or earthquakes whatever tornado? All of those things there’s someone in a public health department who’s responsible for that. So it is a kind of the acute problem of whether it is emerging disease or there is a dengue emergency in the big island of Hawaii. The public health official there is obviously concerned about that. And obviously they’re concerned about the water but every office of certain division within public health has a particular charge that they advocate for a monitor.

N:   When it comes to public health, do the nurses say that you’ll encounter at the health department, are they trained in far more procedures or far more symptoms than just your average nurse? Or is there even such a thing than average nurse or physician? Is the training above and beyond simply because you’re dealing with the entire public and emergency situation above and beyond what the hospital would be dealing with?

M:   Definitely I’m going to speak to the issue of public health training for physician. There is specific training for physician, there is a residency program called ‘Preventive Medicine’ which trains a lot of the public health professionals across the country. Also there is something called ‘Epidemiology Intelligence Service’, which is a fellowship program out of the center for disease control and they also train public health professionals in the United States.

N:   You’re busy, I don’t think there are not enough letters on the word busy (laugh) to describe what you go through. It seems that you got your hands full already. What prompted you to go into public health? When and why did you do that? Because it seems like you took on even more than you would as a general practitioner or an internal medicine.

M:   Absolutely. I always wanted to be the surgeon general. When I think of a surgeon general he/she is responsible for the health of the nation. When you think about the smoking cessation campaign of the 70’s and certainly our concern about obesity in this part of this decade. My first exposure to public health, my mother was a nurse and we would do or she would do volunteer work in Skid row on Los Angeles. We’re working on obviously with the homeless population and this was in the late 70’s. And there was a physician there, by the name of Dr…. and he was the … physician and always treated each individual with such dignity and humanity. We shouldn’t be surprise about that but we know that sometimes that doesn’t always happen depending upon the population. I was taken by the fact that this physician was here … those who needs the most, who definitely needed advocates and then my mother sort of embedded me the importance of community service and volunteer work, and by the way she was also a public health nurse when you mentioned nurses in Chicago in the 60’s. I grew up around this concept of public health. As I entered medical school it was always, ‘when I was going to master’s in public health?’, not if. Then as my career has evolved it’s always about how can I use that to continue to advocate for populations that need a voice and to try create a healthy America.

N:   What advice do you have for not only a physician who’s considering an MPH but the medical school students or the kid who’s in high school looking at different colleges now? When it comes to public health, what would you tell them?

M:   I think public health is such a wonderful field. It is so broad it can take you to far fun places, wouldn’t certainly be a baller, was certain on the tip of our tongue. This time last year, which took us to countries in Western part of Africa. But now of course we’re talking about Zika which is in South America and kind of moving up. Then also public health is in your backyard. In public health school I was exposed to not only environmental health, there’s maternal and child health, there’s international health, there’s certainly health policy and management. There are variety of disciplines whether the economics, we need people who are able to communicate and use different mediums and which to communicate for certainly source of media has come up, writers. There’s a little something for everyone, and if you want to do good and we are always talking about “how do I do good to make a difference?” Public health is a wonderful way in which to do that.

N:   Great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio this afternoon talking with Dr. Sylvia Morris received her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine, currently an independent health care consultant and community health advocate, certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Board of Holistic Medicine. She’s been in studio this afternoon talking with us about the public health, the benefits of public health training for physicians, why public health matters to everyone, her interest in public health, and how public health has impacted her career brought about big changes in her life and certainly the lives of those that she’s touched through public health. Great having you here today Dr. Morris.

M:   Thank you it’s been wonderful.

N:   Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!