In honor of Public Health Thank You Day we will be highlighting public health professionals throughout the day. Our second professional today is Andrew Hennenfent, D.V.M., M.P.H., a CDC/CSTE applied epidemiology fellow at the District of Columbia Department of Health.
What drew you to a career in public health?
After being accepted to veterinary school during my senior year of college, I attended a presentation given by the director of the DVM/MPH joint degree program at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine which centered on the critical role that veterinarians play in public health. During the presentation, the speaker described the unique perspective veterinarians contribute to public health through their understanding of herd health dynamics and the pathogenesis of current and emerging zoonotic diseases. Growing up on a multigenerational family farm in western Illinois, I had already gained firsthand knowledge of these health issues and liked the idea of integrating my production animal background and future veterinary training into the field of public health with the ability to someday address health issues that have broad impacts on multiple species.
What do you enjoy most about your current position as an early career public health professional?
As a newly appointed CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow in infectious disease at the District of Columbia Department of Health, I enjoy the daily challenge of dealing with both animal and human based health concerns. Working at a local health department gives me the opportunity to interact with the general public on a regular basis through both disease investigations and wellness initiatives that address challenges as they arise. Since all response starts locally, it is rewarding to see the programs and projects I contribute to directly impact and improve the lives of the intended community groups.
How do you hope to contribute to the field of public health in your career in the future?
Moving forward with my career, my goal is to promote awareness of animal health issues and their potential impact on human health at all levels of government. With the emergence and migration of diseases across borders and over large geographic distances, it is increasingly important to promote increased knowledge, as well as intervention strategies where appropriate, of pathogens that cross the human-animal boundary. I am hopeful that wherever I have the opportunity to contribute to the field of public health in the future, my training in animal health and epidemiology, along with the hands-on experience I am gaining in the CSTE Fellowship will give me a unique perspective and skill set necessary to mitigate these challenges as they arise at the local, state or national level.
He grew up in Roseville, Illinois, and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He also holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.