As my 5th week at the Kent County Health Department begins, I can’t help but reflect on how quickly this summer is passing by: it’s June, and I’ll be back in Ann Arbor for my final year at the University of Michigan is just 3 months! One of the contributing factors to the speed at which time has passed is the amount of work I’ve been doing here at my internship. I’m settling in for sure: meetings are becoming the norm, I can analyze and interpret data by myself, I understand how to make a comprehensible survey, and I’m learning more and more about public health everyday. I’m also learning how to effectively and quickly correct my mistakes, like being too reliant on the autosave feature in most office programs. For some reason, unbeknown to me, this critical life-saving function is absent on the computers here. It only took one time for me to delete a morning’s worth of work to realize I was living in the Stone Age, and was responsible for saving my own work. I quickly re-did the project in the afternoon, and my supervisor was pleased with the work. All’s well that ends well!
Some of you may be wondering what my title is supposed to mean, and it’s a great question. Being a SpongeBob aficionado, I decided a fun way to title this blog post would be a reference to a classic episode in which our main protagonist sponge and his greedy boss Mr. Krabs poison a health inspector because they suspect he’s a fraud out for free food. I recalled this episode last week Friday as I myself became a Health Inspector for a day. I shadowed employees from the department’s Environment Health division as they issued temporarily food licenses to vendors for Grand Rapids’ Festival of the Arts. Fortunately, the booth operators were pros: they’ve been serving at this event for years, and they had their act together. The only real problem we ran into was a refrigerator truck that got a little too warm– 56 degrees! — that had to be replaced, along with all the product inside. Other than this little hiccup, the inspections went off without a hitch, and food was able to be served to the ravenous crowds.
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to get multiple experiences such as this, not just in epidemiology but in food inspection, emergency preparedness response, and more. As my supervisor said almost a month ago, “I’m going to imbed you in the daily workings of a local health department”, and I feel like I have been. I’m excited for the other opportunities I’ll have this summer!