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2024 ANHE Fellowship Blog Series #1

I had an amazing experience in Cohort 2 of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) Environmental Health Nurse Fellowship program in 2022-2023. My experience was a little bit different as I partnered with another Fellow to complete the project. This made things slightly more difficult, but it was a great learning experience and I’m so glad we were able to partner together to bring our Community-Based Organization (CBO) great products. 

The CBO we partnered with is called GASP, which stands for Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution. Part of their mission is to advance healthy air and environmental justice in greater-Birmingham with education and other tools. We were tasked with creating infographics for GASP for the lay public. The goal was for them to be easily understood by non-healthcare providers and have limited medical jargon. The topics included: Lead, Benzene, Toluene, Arsenic, and Napthalene. We created the infographics to include what the substance is, how many are affected by it and how, what are the health problems/adverse effects that can occur, how to limit exposure, and what to do if you are exposed. The infographics were to be used on their social media and/or website. It was great working with GASP. There was a leadership change during this time, but that did not keep us from working together to get the final products. 

Outside of the project, working with a CBO, and having monthly lectures, I was extremely glad to meet and spend time with some outstanding nurses and staff members of ANHE. It was so great to learn about everyone’s different paths, goals, and current positions. Shortly after and because of this Fellowship, I joined the Climate Advocacy Lab’s Climate + Health Peer Learning Circle. It was a great opportunity to learn more about climate, environmental health, and what next steps can be taken to make real change. My plans include a podcast as a follow-up to the Learning Circle. I have already started working on it. I’m excited to see what kind of information I can get out there to other healthcare professionals. After this, my goal is to be more involved with an environmental health board or organization. I’m so glad I decided to do the fellowship and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a wonderful experience, so much so, that I signed up to be a mentor for the fellowship for Cohort 3 (2023-2024). It has been an honor to work with this group!

LaDonna Gaines, DNP, MPH, RN, CSPI is the Administrative Director of the Alabama Poison Information Center located at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. She has been a nurse for 18 years. She has worked as a Hematology/Oncology Staff Nurse, Medical Case Manager, and a Specialist in Poison Information throughout her career. Professionally, she is a member of America’s Poison Centers’ Accreditation Committee, Poison Center Leadership Meeting Planning Committee, the Alabama State Nurses Association and the American Association of Clinical Toxicologists. She currently volunteers with the Junior League of Birmingham and sits on the Samford Black Alumni Association (SBAA) Board of Directors.