Mayra E. Martínez

Describe your career path since graduating from the UI College of Public Health.
After graduating with my bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, I started working in the eHealth + eNovation Center for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The eHealth Center focuses on providing and improving healthcare delivery and access through research and new technology. Through my role as a Digital Healthcare Program Coordinator, I have been able to learn an array of new information about the multi-industry collaboration required in bringing healthcare resources to different populations.

How did working with the PRC as a student help prepare or inform you for your current job?
Working as a student in the Prevention Research Center allowed me to become familiar with and gain deeper insight into the type of populations we are targeting with our work in eHealth. Iowa has a strong presence of rural communities that often encounter unique barriers to healthcare access. Through the various health surveys and questionnaires that I conducted as part of the PRC, I was able to learn about the different types and impacts of these barriers straight from community members in Ottumwa, Muscatine, and West Liberty. I apply what I gained from these individuals into the formation of strategies used in bringing new telemedicine capabilities to these kinds of areas.

What’s the most important thing you took away from your time working with the PRC?
I learned that there are multiple ways to contribute to the improvement of community health. Even as an undergraduate student, I was able to be involved in work that positively impacts people’s lives through not just the gain of community-based research knowledge, but through the opportunity to apply it as well.

What are one or two of the most satisfying aspects of your work in public health?
Prior to my work in public health, I learned that nothing can send a person’s life off balance like a change in health does. Working in public health has allowed me the ability to educate and inform people about ways to prevent illnesses that can impact their overall well-being and quality of life.

Being able to bring health education to populations, especially those that are already encountering barriers to healthcare, is important and the part of public health that I find most satisfying. While working with rural Latino populations, I discovered a strong need for health education. I believe that knowledge is power, and when a person is more informed they have a better ability to make decisions that benefit their life.

What do you think current students should know about the value of working with faculty and research projects like those affiliated with the PRC?
The variety of PRC projects allows for collaboration with all sorts of different professors, professionals, and other students. Working with this network allows for greater comprehension of the project purpose that contributes to the over-arching theme of preventing disease among populations. No two communities are identical, so learning how to adapt and apply research methods differently allows you to become a more versatile researcher.

What would you tell students about the value of working on community-based research or rural health?
Working in community-based research provided me the ability to place my current and future contributions to preventative research into perspective. Throughout my different tasks among the different PRC areas, I now understand that I was able to play a role that contributed to countering chronic illness in the communities. There are many ways to keep people healthy, and being part of an initiative to do so was very valuable because improving health positively impacts lives.