“All kids deserve a chance to be healthy.”
These words from Julie Pike are what motivate her in her job as a clinical dietitian and diabetes educator at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. And they guide her at home as mom to three young children.
Pike, who works in pediatric endocrinology at Riley for Dr. Tamara Hannon, has been selected as a Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
She is one of 50 individuals – a new generation of public health leaders – drawn from organizations around the country who are working on one of five health challenges facing the nation: addiction and overdose, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, risks to adolescent health, and violence.
Each Fellow receives a full scholarship to earn a master’s or doctorate in public health, then they are expected to use their new skills to continue tackling some of the toughest challenges facing U.S. communities.
For Pike, who was already knee deep in studies at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore last weekend, it’s a chance to expand her knowledge and her impact beyond the clinical setting into the community.
“The community is where people live and work and play. It’s where they do life,” she said. “We can have a much bigger impact there.”
Access to healthy food and physical activity are critical to stemming the tide of obesity and its related health consequences, Pike said, lessons she shares regularly in clinic appointments and outreach efforts in the community.
“I’m looking forward to learning how to really expand our clinical efforts into action in our community,” she said.
Pike will pursue a master’s in public health through the program, but she’ll do most of her course work locally, in conjunction with Dr. Hannon and research projects that she leads. When complete, Pike believes she’ll be better equipped to design, implement and evaluate health programming for different facets of the community.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, donated $300 million three years ago to launch the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.
“By spreading smart public health strategies that save lives and bringing people together to try new approaches, we can make the same strides in the 21st century against health threats like air pollution, gun violence and obesity that we did in the 20th century against polio and other infectious diseases,” Bloomberg said when the initiative was announced.
– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist