Amanda Darche, Spartan in Public Health, works as the Health Communication Specialist and Public Information Officer for the Ingham County Health Department. Her goal is to influence people’s health behaviors and beliefs.
June 6, 2019
Provide a summary of your job description.
A: Employs health communication, risk communication, social marketing and public relations strategies to promote health across Ingham County; Develops communication-based interventions and messaging based upon behavioral and social learning theories to influence the health behaviors and health beliefs of county residents; Engages in strategic communications, which include paid and earned media across digital and traditional platforms, to support the health department’s mission, goals and objectives, strategic plan and community health needs assessment; Analyzes and solicits data via survey tools and focus groups on informing strategies and identifying areas of need; Measures overall outcomes of communications; Issues press releases and responds to inquiries from the media; Institutes and enforces communication and brand standards across the health department; Oversees website and social media.
Why did you pursue a career in public health?
A: I've always been interested in health. Even as a tween, I was a bit of an evangelist when it came to prevention and risk reduction. I remember being very concerned about HIV/AIDS as a child growing up in the 1990s, seeing the AIDS Memorial Quilt and watching movies like "And the Band Played On." It had a real impression on me. I do not doubt that I am meant to work in public health. I feel privileged to work in a field that gives me such a sense of fulfillment, and I feel a strong sense of duty to serve the residents of my county.
Share an example that demonstrates the importance of your work in public health?
A: The “Choices, Not Chances” social marketing campaign was developed with Lansing-area teens. It has distributed kits containing condoms and health information via mail to nearly 1,000 people since it launched in September 2016. In the three months after the campaign launched, traffic to web pages with HIV/STI-related content increased 52.2%. I presented a poster regarding the campaign at the 2017 Roadmap to Health HIV/STD Conference. I also presented the campaign at the 2017 Michigan’s Premier Public Health Conference.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: My position is relatively new to the county. Previously, no one was dedicated to communications at the Ingham County Health Department. We recently applied to the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), and the importance of communications was brought to the forefront. I championed domain three, which is to “Inform and Educate about Public Health Issues and Functions.” It was one of the department’s strongest domains and drew largely from the body of work I produced over the last four years. I was also able to provide vital documentation to assist with the fulfillment of other domains.
Have you received any awards or honors?
A: I received a Berreth Award Honorable Mention from the National Public Health Information Coalition the development of a social marketing campaign to increase condom usage in people age 24 and under.
Why did you choose MSU to pursue your Master of Public Health?
A: The convenience of an all online program appealed to me as a working adult. I worked full-time while pursuing my degree part-time. This was the only feasible way for me to earn my MPH.
If you were to share a best practice or words of wisdom with current MPH students, what would you want them to know?
A: Public health is a broad field with many subfields. I love everything about public health, and it was challenging for me to find my niche in public health. I recommend that students think about previous work experience, education, and explore course offerings to find their place in public health.
Amanda Darche, CHM MPH ‘14
Health Communication Specialist/Public Information Officer
Ingham County Health Department
Spartan in Public Health