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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast

Episode #194 Public Health Veterinary Epidemiology, Interview With Dr. Millicent Eidson

Public Health Veterinary Epidemiology

Today we take a special journey exploring the intersection of public health, veterinary medicine, and epidemiology, welcoming Dr. Millicent Eidson to the show! Our guest has taken her passions for these areas, her well-earned expertise in the field, thrown in some entrepreneurial courage and creativity, and launched a series of books aiming to entertain and educate on the important areas of public health. Dr. Eidson's fascinating career arc has led her through different positions and institutions and now the latest surprising development has helped her spread her wings into the literary world. In our conversation, we get to hear all about the steps leading up to this moment, her passion for teaching, mentoring, and learning, and her belief in the power of stories! Dr. Edison shares some great advice for aspiring public health professionals and talks about the usefulness of following your curiosity and passions and taking lessons from the right mentors.

Meet Dr. Millicent Eidson

Dr. Millicent Eidson has retired as a full-time veterinary epidemiologist but teaches a course about climate change and zoonoses (diseases from animals) at the University of Vermont. She is focused on translating these diseases into fiction through short stories and a novel series. Like the James Herriot books and TV shows that illuminate the rewards of veterinary clinical practice, Dr. Eidson hopes to do the same for veterinary public health.

Since a science fair award in middle school, Dr. Eidson was fascinated by research and statistics. In her social psychology master’s degree program at the University of Colorado, she yearned to apply study results to address societal problems. Veterinary medicine was intriguing because of its broad cross-species approach. With the first epidemiology course at Colorado State University, she found a life mission. Her instructor assisted with an internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, followed by application to its Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program.

After EIS training at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Eidson had an exciting twelve years as New Mexico’s Environmental Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian. Challenging health issues included plague, hantavirus, and a brand new disease eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome from contaminated l-tryptophan. In twenty years at the New York State Department of Health, her focus was primarily rabies, West Nile virus, and climate change. Both states encouraged academic partnerships teaching and mentoring students, and fostered national leadership as reflected in awards from the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, and American Veterinary Medical Association.

Key Takeaways From This Episode

  • The new path that Dr. Eidson has been pursuing in public health recently: novel writing!

  • Dr. Eidson's early interest in public health and the zig-zagging route she took in her career.

  • The universe that Dr. Eidson has created to share impactful messages around public health.

  • Applying skills to numerous public health issues and the range of projects that Dr. Eidson has worked on!

  • Who Dr. Eidson aims to help and the sectors she is targeting with her novels.

  • The genre goals that Dr. Eidson is aiming for; staying informative while entertaining.

  • Background to the story and main character, Dr. Maya Maguire, from Dr. Eidson's books.

  • Dr. Eidson's advice around priorities for students interested in pursuing a career in public health.

  • The importance of utilizing the expertise of faculty members and seniors while studying.

  • Entry into the public health field; thoughts for graduates and young professionals.

  • Life-long learning in public health and how Dr. Eidson's career exemplifies these possibilities.

Listen To The Podcast Episode

Dr. Eidson's Career Advice to Public Health Students

1) Seek skills classes where you learn how to do public health. Classes about different health

problems are valuable but that knowledge can be gained on the job. Skills usually need


2) Prioritize skills like research design, statistics, geographic information systems (GIS), and

scientific communication through writing and speaking.

3) Find internships for connections and learning real-world public health. They frequently lead

to the first job.

4) Interact with faculty outside of class. Take advantage of office hours and departmental

gatherings to learn their perspectives and recommendations.

Dr. Eidson's Career Advice to Graduates and Professionals

1) Reach out for advice. Contact someone in a job that looks interesting, even if you don’t know

them. Once COVID is more manageable, take them out for lunch—even busy people have to

eat sometime.

2) Avoid burnout due to repetitive work and limitations on using skills. Find ways to make

contributions through job changes or through part-time volunteer work.

3) Stretch your knowledge with additional coursework and training. Although challenging to

manage while working full-time, consider online master of public health programs like those

offered at the University of Vermont and the University at Albany.

4) Take an intensive educational ‘vacation’ through epidemiology and statistics short courses

like those offered in summer institutes by Johns Hopkins University and the University of

Massachusetts Amherst.

Connect with Dr. Eidson

Links Mentioned in This Episode

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