“What was your favorite part about NHC? Was it worth it?”
These are the top two questions I often receive from friends and family as I embark on the last week of my NHC service year. Usually, I give a short reply to vaguely answer it, but lately, I’ve found myself asking the same questions. Unlike replies for others, a self-reflection requires deeper thoughts than just a 2-3 sentence answer.
I like written documents of life events. If you get close to my laptop, you’ll find tons of google docs highlighting thoughts from various points in my life. However, encapsulating my time as a NHC member into a google doc has been more challenging than I had anticipated. It feels as though I felt so many things at so many different times that a summary document is just not enough. Instead, I wanted to highlight some reflections I wrote in my journal from throughout the year. I served at the Bureau of Assessment, Statistics, and Epidemiology at Allegheny County Health Department. Here are some of my journal entries:
“My service year officially started today as I picked up my laptop from the office. I’m already ready for the part where I know what I’m doing and I’m comfortable with the people I’m working with.”
“Today marks my 3rd month at my host site, and I feel like I’ve already done so much. From contact tracing to leading community events, my calendar is full till 8-9 PM on most days. While the world around me shuts down socially due to the pandemic, I feel as though I’ve connected with more people than ever before (virtually of course).”
“I had a really difficult contact investigation call today with an elderly patient who tested positive for COVID-19. Due to her mental health issues, she was unable to isolate herself. However, she also did not want to jeopardize others’ health by having them around her. We conversed on the phone for about an hour as I listened to her frustrations and gave her company. Although, I couldn’t fix her issues, she felt better after our conversation- and that is enough sometimes. We can’t always solve everything, but we can always be kind.”
“My first winter in Pittsburgh after a long time. It’s beautiful outside, but the fact that I can serve from home makes it even better haha.”
“Wow, one month left till the end, and I still need reminder emails to fill my PMs haha. But wow, this year felt short and long at the same time. Started it at the midst of a pandemic and now we’re getting out vaccinated and mask free outside. I feel truly honored to have been able to serve in a public health office during a pandemic and help the efforts to stop the spread. As a future public health professional, I will truly never forget this year and the lessons it has taught me.”
Overall, I am grateful. I am grateful for my NHC directors and coordinators for answering my questions, reminding me of my tasks, and being the most encouraging people. I am grateful for my mentor for being so patient, flexible, and understanding. I am grateful for my fellow members who made training days and service days meaningful and memorable.
My answer: Yes, it was worth it, and my favorite parts were the little things that made me smile and push through.