Faculty Spotlight: Carry Buterbaugh, Public Health Program 

Carry Buterbaugh, PhD, MS is assistant-director thesis advising for the Graduate Programs in Public HealthCarry Buterbaugh, Ph.D., MS is the Assistant Director of Thesis Advising for Graduate Programs in Public Health students here at CGPS.  

So can you tell us a little bit about your background and what drew you to teaching at UNE online? 

My background is in public health program evaluation and research. When working at the School for Community and Population Health at UNE, one of the programs I was involved in required frequent travel up to Washington County in rural Downeast Maine. We worked on an early childhood initiative (Project LAUNCH) designed to provide comprehensive support to at-risk families and expecting mothers.

It is because of this program that I became really interested in rural health and the delivery of health services to some of the vulnerable populations in Maine. The collaborative efforts I experienced between health care providers and community agencies were innovative and effective in addressing health care challenges. I felt very lucky to be part those rural teams and meet so many wonderful people doing such important work and really making a difference in their communities.

In 2014 I left my position at UNE and became a full-time program evaluator supporting rural communities with their public health programs by capturing, measuring and sharing their program outcomes. After five years of working directly in the field, I decided that it was time to bring things full circle, and bring all the field experience back to the office to share with other public health professionals and students.

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Part of your job is to be a thesis advisor. How do you work with students in that capacity?

I work with GPPH students enrolled in the Integrative Learning Experience course (GPH 744), a course students take after they successfully complete their Advanced Elective (GPH 751, 752 or 753). Students come into the course with a draft of their high quality written product, which we finalize during this 8-week course.

I support students in their preparation for their oral presentation and introduce them to other methods to share their scholarly work – including poster presentations, conference presentations, and journal publications.

You have a business background – so what led you to public health? 

I received a B.S. in Business Economics back in the Netherlands, then I went on to earn my M.S. in Applied Economics at Clemson University. Upon graduation, I had a job with Cornell’s Cooperative Extension doing outreach work and collecting data for statewide educational efforts.

Through this first real job, I became very interested in working in the public sector, but realized I needed to learn some more. So I moved to Maine and enrolled in the Public Policy program at the University of Southern Maine – Muskie School of Public Service. My first public health job was at the Maine Center for Public Health in Augusta where I provided quantitative evaluation support for statewide public health initiatives.

Read more: Why Work in Public Health? Ten Reasons to Choose a Public Health Career

Sounds like field experience has been a powerful influence in your career.

Yes, it sure has. By going out in the community you learn so much, and I found that people really want to share their stories about what works well and does not work well within their organization and or community.  

For me, connecting and building relationships with community leaders and community members really allowed me to gain full insight into the underlying factors of the many rural health barriers. By capturing and sharing local project efforts and outcomes with local, state and national stakeholders, I have seen positive changes taking place.

It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience to be part of innovative community-based public health initiatives that truly have made a difference for community members.

Every public health student needs to complete a field experience. What would be your number one piece of advice for them?  

Students have such a wonderful opportunity here to find out what aspect of public health they are really interested in, and what they would like to focus on moving forward in their public health career.

I would encourage students to view their practicum and their advanced elective as an opportunity to work in an area of public health that they are passionate about. I would like students to think about their field experience as an opportunity to apply their academic knowledge and strengthen their professional skills to enhance future opportunities.

Imagine yourself here! If you’re thinking about the impact you could make by earning your MPH, take the first step now by downloading the guide to our online Graduate Programs in Public Health:

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