Date: February 4th, 2015
By: Pat Paluzzi
Last week, I had the opportunity to be part of a virtual conference for providers working in the Indian Health Service. It was a nostalgic moment for me. I say that because my career started some 40 years ago when I took a job, fresh out of nursing school, with the Indian Health Service. It was a truly amazing, and initially somewhat overwhelming, experience. I moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to a small town in Arizona, set up household, and pretended I was an adult while learning about a people I didn’t even know existed a year earlier.
I was thrust into a clinical setting I was unprepared for, with others like me, and we all learned and grew together. It was one of the best experiences of my life and established my career path in so far as my desire to become a midwife and my commitment to public health were born in Winslow, AZ.
I continue to have a special place in my heart for the Indian people I got to know as friends, family, colleagues, and patients, and I get very excited whenever Healthy Teen Network has the opportunity to work with this population (as we did when we developed the Learning Walks with First Nations Community Health Source, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, and Wind River, and the Lessons Learned report).
So of course, I said yes to being part of the faculty for their virtual event, where I focused on increasing access to reproductive services among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth and spoke to some 40 professionals who provide these services. During the question and answer period an attendee asked about funding opportunities for those serving Native Youth.
For me, this question surfaced another question I continue to push Healthy Teen Network to consider…are we considering partners across fields, disciplines, and sectors? Are we thinking about those serving our most marginalized youth? We must embody Youth 360° and holistic health promotion. We must be thinking strategically about how to achieve better outcomes for all youth.
In this flurry of activity that so many of us are engaged in right now—deciding to apply or not to apply, positioning ourselves to develop strong proposals that fill gaps in our field—we have an opportunity to expand our networks and enhance our relationships with partners. I encourage us all to think about all youth—particularly those youth populations that aren’t always the first to be considered—and those organizations who work every day to improve young people’s lives, as potential partners as we attempt to create our best programs and services.
About the Author
Patricia Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, President and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, has been active in the fields of reproductive, and maternal and child health for over 40 years, as a clinician, researcher, administrator, and advocate. Her clinical and content expertise spans the full scope of midwifery care, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, high-risk maternal child health (including pregnant teens), incorporating men into clinical services, and trauma-informed approaches.