When the weather outside is frightful, we like to get cozy with a good public health book. In this edition of the We ❤ Health Literacy Book Club, we’re curling up with Adventures of a Female Medical Detective by Dr. Mary Guinan, a memoir reflecting on her remarkable career in public health.
In 1974, Dr. Guinan began her stint in the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), a prestigious training program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She describes being the only woman in her class of medical detectives (or “epidemiologists” in public health speak). And that wasn’t the first — or last — time in her career that she smashed a glass ceiling!
She became a true public health pioneer, remaining at CDC to help eradicate smallpox in India and to serve on the front lines of the early HIV/AIDS crisis. The latter even landed her a role in another book we ❤: And the Band Played On.
Along with describing these historic events, Dr. Guinan discusses the role of communication and the media in public health. She laughs about interview gaffes and recalls being misunderstood or misquoted (read the book to find out how she won the nickname “Dr. Herpes”!). Our favorite: the watershed moment in 1987 when CDC hired a communication expert to teach scientists about main messages and simple writing.
This collection of public health tales — some inspiring, some frustrating, some hilarious — weaves together the personal reflections of a medical detective solving serious public health problems. And we really ❤ that.
The bottom line: In Adventures of a Female Medical Detective, a public health pioneer shares stories and wisdom from her remarkable career.
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