Doing something not done before: a career built on a passion for teaching and One Health, with Veterinarian, Entrepreneur and Author, Deborah Thomson

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Deborah Thomson, the founder of One Health Lessons. They discuss the various titles Deborah has held, Deborah’s areas of interest in public health, and the vision and mission of One Health Lessons.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Deborah’s career journey from teaching, to practicing as a veterinarian, to working in public health
  • What a day in Deborah’s life looks like
  • Tips on time management 
  • How Toastmasters can help with communication skills, especially in public health
  • What One Health is
  • How One Health Lessons came to be
    • The goal of One Health Lessons 
    • How listeners can help with this mission
    • What’s next for One Health
  • What advice Deborah has for others passionate about starting an initiative
  • Deborah’s experience writing “The Art of Science Communication: Sharing Knowledge with Students, the Public, and Policymakers”
  • Deborah’s career goals for the future

Today’s Guest:

Dr. Deborah Thomson is author of The Art of Science Communication and the Chair of the World Veterinary Association’s One Health Education Subgroup. In addition, she founded an organization that inspires children and adults around the world to value the interconnection between human health and the health of the environment, plants, and animals (called One Health Lessons). She has served as a Science Policy Advisor in the United States Congress and is also a clinical veterinarian and award-winning public speaker. Her articles have been printed in multiple publications, including The Lancet Planetary Health.

Featured on the Show:

Other Resources:

Episode Transcript

Deborah 0:00
When people asked me what I wanted to do, I said, I want to do something that’s not been done before, but I know exactly what I want. And I just need to make it work. The mission of One Health lessons is to inspire children and adults around the world to value that interconnection between our health and the health of the environment, animals and plants. The vision of One Health lessons is to change societies to create a more sustainable planet.

Sujani 0:28
Hey there, this is Sujani. And I know you can’t wait to get into today’s episode. So I will make this very quick right now and tell you more about it at the end. Up until now, you’ve been hearing about our career program at the end of our episodes. While those career programs were super successful, our community members found a ton of value through them, we decided to put a stop on it. Because after running a few of those pilot cohorts, and having a lot of discussions with our peers in public health, the participants of the program, schools of public health as well as other changemakers in the field, we’re excited to let you know that we’ve taken the career program and have expanded it into a much more exciting offer. That doesn’t just last a few weeks. So if you’re listening to this episode, when it’s going live, I’m super excited to let you know that next month in October of 2022, we’ll be opening up the doors to one of our most exciting offerings called The Public Health Career Club. And you can find out about it at And if you stick around till the end of this episode, I’ll be telling you a bit more about it. But for now, here’s today’s episode.

Hi, Deborah, and welcome to the PH SPOT podcast. I am thrilled to finally get to sit down and talk to you about your career journey. So thanks so much for joining me today.

Deborah 2:02
Such a pleasure. Sujani. Thanks so much for the invitation.

Sujani 2:05
Yeah, and I think if our listeners are kind of similar to me, and the recognize your name, Deborah Thomson, and anything to do with kind of like One Health floating around on LinkedIn, or social media, this is the Deborah Thomson. So I just wanted to call that out before we started. And, Deborah, I think there’s just so much work that you’ve done in kind of this large field of public health, and I want to be able to get to everything today. But I know that’s that’s not possible in the one hour that we do have. So you know, maybe for some of our listeners who are really keen about learning more about you, would LinkedIn be kind of the best place for them to follow along on your journey? Because I know there’s just so much content that you end up sharing there.

Deborah 2:50
Thanks. Yeah, LinkedIn is by far the easiest way to connect with me. The spelling of my name is kind of funny. It’s Deborah, the long way, D-E-B-O-R-A-H. And then Thomson the short way, T-H-O-M-S-O-N, and I am a DVM Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

Sujani 3:07
Great. Yeah, no, I just wanted to do that right off the bat. Because sometimes I do forget at the end, and you’re someone that I’d really like to encourage folks to follow along. So the first question that I love hearing, the response from my guests is, you know, how did you discover public health? I know you’re more on the veterinary side of things. But this idea of public health and to build a career in this field. I’m always curious to hear when someone ends up discovering this field.

Deborah 3:35
Awesome question. I think it all ties into why I chose veterinary medicine. So my father is a physician. He’s an emergency physician. And I grew up in a house where we learn about medicine, you know, at the dinner table. But I always, of course, had a passion for animals and biology was just always something of interest for me. But when I was following around some physicians, they weren’t stopping me in my tracks. I didn’t know why I couldn’t figure it out. Granted, I love medicine all around. I love medicine. But I wanted to continue my search. And so when I realized that veterinarians can not only help the animals in front of them, their patients, but also the people relying on those animals, for food, for companionship, for milk, whatever it is, that’s when I thought okay, with one action, I can help multiple facets of an equation there. So that’s why I wanted to go into veterinary medicine. So indirectly helping the public with public health, but I’ll leave it there.

Sujani 4:47
And so how early was this realization for you?

Deborah 4:52
How early I was 21 years old.

Sujani 4:56
So right around when you’re kind of exploring where to focus your schooling, I suppose, right?

Deborah 5:01
It’s funny. A lot of my classmates decided when they were four or five years old.

Sujani 5:06
To be a vet. Right?

Deborah 5:09
Yeah. But I am a very curious person by nature. And I like to explore and I like to ask questions. And I was all over the place with what I wanted to do in a career.

Sujani 5:19
So prior to turning 21, what are some careers that you had thought about?

Deborah 5:25
Oh, my. Maybe architecture? Maybe physician, you know, maybe- maybe musician, because I have a Bachelors of music. Teacher, sociologists. I mean, the list goes on and on.

Sujani 5:41
Yeah. Okay. So I guess 21 you decide you want to go into veterinary medicine? And so how did that path kind of look like your schooling? I suppose we can start with that.

Deborah 5:51
Yeah, not a straight line, Sujani. So I do two bachelor’s degrees at McGill University up in Montreal. The first degree is in music. I have a bachelor’s in music. And then I have a Bachelors of Science. And so I did both of those degrees at the same time. And that was a lot.

Sujani 6:09

Deborah 6:11
It took me five years to do both bachelor’s. And around the third fourth year of my bachelor’s degree, I decided I wanted to go into veterinary medicine. So I was thinking, oh, you know, hopefully I get in the first time. After all, I have decent grades. So two different bachelor’s degrees. At the same time, it looks like I’m determined, right?

Sujani 6:32

Deborah 6:33
Well, I did not get it. And so I ended up having a year to contemplate, what do I really want. And during that year, I was teaching in a middle school in Quebec City. Right outside of Quebec City, I was living in Quebec City, in Canada, and I was teaching English language learners. And I was teaching in a way to have them forget that they were speaking with me in English, they were just concentrating on the activities at hand. And I taught the way I wanted to learn when I was a child. And before that experience, I was already teaching like when I was at McGill, and even before I was already teaching various subjects. So it was a really a really formidable year for me, it solidified my passion for teaching. And that kind of leads us into one health lessons, save 12-13 years.

Sujani 7:29
And so the teaching career, you know, I guess, you know, you still wanted to go to vet school because you ended up going to get a degree in veterinary medicine. So how did that- I guess not transition but how did that next step take place for you?

Deborah 7:45
Yeah, it’s funny, because if you take a year or a few years, out in the quote, unquote, real world,

Sujani 7:52

Deborah 7:53
Between your undergrad and your, you know, vet school, or med school, or whatever it is, I feel like I had a different appreciation for education. Not only was I a teacher before, so I understood what my professors were going through.

Sujani 8:07

Deborah 8:07
But I also truly appreciated that every single day, I wanted to learn something new, like I didn’t want to waste any time in vet school. So I was participating in a lot of different student clubs. I was co president of the goat club at school, because I loved working with small ruminants. So that means sheep and goats and such. But at the same time as doing my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, I was also getting a postgraduate certificate in international veterinary medicine, which in retrospect, was one of the first one health programs that existed in the world. But back then nobody called One Health, One Health.

Sujani 8:45
It was a recent terminology, right, like recent enough that I remember it.

Deborah 8:51
Well, depends on who you ask. But I would say it was very niche, and now is getting out of that niche, which I am truly grateful for.

Sujani 8:59
Yeah, absolutely. So that’s cool. That was- that was not at McGill, was it?

Deborah 9:05
No, no, that was at Tufts University in Massachusetts in the United States.

Sujani 9:09
Okay, so you go from teaching, music, to vet school, and then I suppose you graduate in about four years or so. And then do you go kind of on the quote, unquote, frontlines or clinical side of veterinary medicine right away?

Deborah 9:24
Ah, yeah. So when I graduated, I wanted to originally work with large animals and small animals. So cows, horses, goats, cats, dogs, turtles, all of that, but I was working well, I wasn’t paid for I was still in school. But my clinical years I was working on a farm and I got kicked by a cow and it was so close to my head that I was thinking, I don’t know if I want to risk my life. You know, there’s a different degree of commitment there. Even though I was absolutely in love with the medicine side of it. I wanted to see how I could help in a different way farmers and such. But for clinical medicine, yes, after graduation, I went over to Southern California and did an internship. So just like in human medicine internships, at least in my experience were 18-19 hour work weeks, five days off a year. And yeah, that was a very challenging year, I’ll say that. After that I did not want to specialize. I again, I’m a very curious person. So I’m very happy going into general practice, seeing dermatology, doing dentistry going up, though, and then doing puppy and kitten exams, you know, vaccines, yeah, wellness exams, I move up to San Francisco where I have family and practice there for several years. After that, I moved to Washington, DC, and I’m a policy, originally a fellow and then a policy advisor in the United States Congress. And my portfolio or my area of expertise was One Health. So I work on public health, global health, planetary health, animal health and welfare. And this was during the pandemic as well.

Sujani 11:11
I also noticed on your LinkedIn that prior to the role that you took on in California, you were in other parts of the world doing some one health research, was that through kind of your vet school experience that you were doing work in Nepal, in Tanzania?

Deborah 11:26
Well done on your research. Yeah, I usually don’t mention those. But yeah, excellent. For the postgraduate certificate of international veterinary medicine at Tufts. What we did was after the normal class hours, then a certain allotment of students have additional classes weekly, and then at least one summer you go and you do a project, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a one off project. But I was passionate about that. And I mean, after all, that’s why I went to vet school, because of that interconnection between public health and in animals and the environment. Yeah, that’s exactly what brought me to Nepal and Tanzania, I created One Health research projects and conducted them during the summers.

Sujani 12:13
Very cool. Yeah, see, this is what I meant by there’s just so much I want to talk to you about and I’m keeping an eye on the clock. And I have all of these questions to ask you. We’re just like, doing a teaser on all of these different parts of your life. And so I do hope folks can connect with you on LinkedIn and see all the great work that you’re doing. We’ve kind of talked about the past, and now getting into what you’re focused on and what you’re doing currently. There’s just so much and I say that with like, such great, like, I’m just inspired with everything that you’re doing. And so you know, I would call you an entrepreneur, I would call you an author, I would call you kind of an advocate, a teacher, all these different kinds of roles that you’re playing around this idea of bringing One Health to quote unquote, like the mainstream public, right, like so that everyone understands what that concept is. I’m curious to hear if that’s how you kind of see yourself. And, you know, on top of that, I’d also I’m curious to hear what does your day look like having so many different projects on the go and so many roles that you’re playing currently?

Deborah 13:25
Wow, well, thanks for the compliment. Sujani. So generous of you. Like I said, when I was younger, I noticed that I was a very curious person by nature. And being an entrepreneur, it lends itself to that I do still practice clinical medicine yesterday, I was doing a 10 hour.

Sujani 13:43

Deborah 13:44
But before that I had an hour meeting with some collaborators in in Africa, because we’re trying to get a project starting through One Health lessons, and they’re not an NGO with- They’re non government organization and a refugee camp over there. And we want to start teaching about one health and public health to improve the quality of life and well being of people and the animals and, and the environment at large. And then afterward, actually, I laugh because it sounds crazy. But then afterwards, I had a two hour rehearsal because I was doing chamber music. So that was my day yesterday, I worked in Africa online, 10 hours in the clinic, then two hours for music.

Sujani 14:34
And then where do you fit in kind of all the other things? I mean, what another thing I didn’t mention is that you’re a speaker. And then I don’t know how do you do?

Deborah 14:43
Yeah, I absolutely love speaking.

Sujani 14:46

Deborah 14:46
but honestly, it did not start off that way. With music. I’ll say I was trained to feel comfortable on stage, but forget about me speaking in front of the audience. Forget it. The only reason why now I feel comfortable speaking on this podcast with you, or onstage in front of hundreds of people, it’s because of Toastmasters.

Sujani 15:10
Oh, yeah.

Deborah 15:11
I don’t know. If your audience knows what that is. Do you want me to explain it?

Sujani 15:15
Yeah, for sure. I think we have quite a few chapters in Canada. But yes, please.

Deborah 15:19
Yeah, yeah, for sure. There’s several in Canada. So Toastmasters. They advertise themselves as a public speaking club. But I feel like it’s so much more than that. It’s a communication club, you learn how to actively listen, you know how to pitch ideas, you know, how to speak on your, on your feet, as they say, really helps with job interviews. And it helps you convey messages, really important for public health, to audiences that don’t share the same background as you. And it’s a safe environment. They tell you what works, what doesn’t work. And I was doing that two hours every week for six years. But I joined that actually not for public speaking, I joined that because I wanted to be the best clinician, I possibly could be because my patients can’t talk. So I had to communicate something as complicated as you know, medicine, veterinary medicine to people who haven’t necessarily had a science class in 30 years, right? You have to do that efficiently, because your patient’s health is on the line. So that’s why I joined Toastmasters. And that truly changed my life.

Sujani 16:30
Yeah, you know, I want to talk to you about your book as well, The Art of Science Communication. But I think maybe just prior to getting into two very cool projects that I want to ask you so much about. Going back to the question of, you know, how does your day kind of look like yesterday, you explain that you spent about 10 hours was it on clinical side of things? And then a couple hours here and there on other projects is that typically, how your day is structured, where majority of your day is spent on kind of in the clinic, and then you have all of these other projects that take up a couple more hours throughout the day? Or do you find other days where you’re doing less clinical work? I suppose.

Deborah 17:10
Yeah. So I’m a relief veterinarian. So that means that I am not only in one place, I hop around to lots of different hospitals and clinics, and I can make my own schedule. So I’m my own boss. So in that respect, I’m an entrepreneur. And I’ve been doing that for years, and I’m very comfortable with hopping into a new clinic, doing the medicine as long as it’s high quality medicine, and I’m not pressured to do anything else. If I am pressured, that I never go back to that place, and I don’t listen to them that day. Because I sleep well at night, you know, I have to practice the quality of medicine that I truly believe in. But on the days off like today, for instance, I have the pleasure of speaking with you. And I have about eight other online meetings to have that have one health lessons and get some future projects rolling out.

Sujani 17:59
This is a great time for me to ask you. Do you have any tips on time management and how to do so much in a day like this?

Deborah 18:07
Yeah. So number one, know yourself and know what you want to commit your time to and what you really don’t want to, if you commit your time to something that you’re passionate about, then the time flies, otherwise, forget it. So slow. So that’s one thing. Number two, I learned this quite young from a music teacher actually, when I was in secondary school in high school, I plan out my day. So from 9 to 10, I’m with you, which is wonderful. Then from 10 to 11, I do something else from 11 to 12, or do something else and then I map out my day, I ensure that I leave enough time to do follow up emails, follow up phone calls, and you know, get groceries, for instance, you have to live.

Sujani 18:54

Deborah 18:54
But you map out your day each day. And that’s how he gets so much done within one day.

Sujani 19:00
Which now takes us to you know, what I connected with you on which was One Health lessons and so thrilled to get to speak to you about this. But I think maybe for some of our listeners who may just be kind of exploring the world of public health and this concept of One Health is new to them. Could we maybe put out a very short one on one, maybe a definition for them?

Deborah 19:24
Honestly, we could be in a three hour meeting and still discuss what else is on campus, and I’ll say it in two sentences make it so I like to explain it as a concept and an approach because you have to understand the concept before you understand the approach. The One Health concept is the interconnection between our health and the health of the environment, animals and plants, sick environments, people, sick animals, sick people. We’re all really now the One Health approach. It’s simply teamwork between people of different backgrounds, disciplines strengths, we come together to prevent and solve of health challenges. So definitely public health is truly involved in one.

Sujani 20:07

Deborah 20:08
Because it’s teamwork between people, so many different backgrounds. We absolutely need public health specialists involved in one health teams.

Sujani 20:16
Thank you for that. And then one health lesson. So you know, your mission with this initiative? Do you call it an initiative? Or what do you how do you label it? I want to use the right term.

Deborah 20:27
Yeah, we’re non-profit.

Sujani 20:29
Okay, so your organization, your mission is to get every child on the planet caring about one health. And I absolutely love that. Like, how did this idea come to be like children? And yeah, just tell us a bit about the backstory behind one health lessons.

Deborah 20:45
Yeah, thanks, it’s children and adults. And there are lots of caveats and stories. And I think it’ll all make sense when I explain how this goes. So one health lessons started with a dream. As cliche as that sounds. When people asked me what I wanted to do, I said, I want to do something that’s not been done before, but I know exactly what I want. And I just need to make it work. People didn’t understand what it was at the start. The mission of One Health lessons is to inspire children and adults around the world to value that interconnection between our health and the health of the environment, animals and plants. The vision of One Health lessons is to change societies to create a more sustainable planet. And the way this started was with my certificate of international veterinary medicine, because I did not have after my name, mph, I could not get into public health jobs, even though that particular degree or certificate that I did, I mean, when you hear certificate, you think, Oh, it’s a two week course. No, it was four years, you know what I mean? But it was just the wording of it. So I couldn’t get into any public health positions. And I did not want to go back to school. I was at that point. I did 11 years of school after high school like I simply do-

Sujani 22:10

Deborah 22:12
But and I also love clinical medicine. So that’s important to know. So what I did was, I’m in the clinic, and I’m thinking, how can I get back to what I’m truly passionate about one health and education. So after hours after my, you know, 10 hour days, and go home, and I create lessons for children and adults about one health.

Sujani 22:36
Just like that, like that night?

Deborah 22:38

Sujani 22:39

Deborah 22:40
Way to exercise my brain in a way because at that point, I wasn’t doing music, because I was burnt out. And I just wanted to exercise my brain in that way. So I created these lessons. And then on my days off, I go out and teach these lessons because I connected with a phenomenal nonprofit that’s associated with University of California, Berkeley, that brings scientists and engineers into classrooms to teach lessons to inspire children and underserved communities to pursue STEM science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and, you know, make science come alive in the classroom. So I connected with that organization created lessons with them, that particular organization is associated with 1700 classrooms. And that’s the basis of our trainer program at one health lessons. But fast forward, in 2020, at that point, I was living in Washington, DC, working with Congress, and after hours, when I was all done with my job, then I was again, creating lessons and teaching Girl Scout troops online classrooms at that time, and it was a big hit. And the kids really liked these lessons about COVID. And from there, The website was born. And there are 11 lessons right now available on what And these lessons are being translated right now into almost 90 languages. We have about 26 or 27 languages posted already.

Sujani 24:19

Deborah 24:19
But it’s truly gone global. And it’s 2020 Officially, but again, I was teaching and creating lessons about this for years before.

Sujani 24:29
Yeah, I was surprised to see that, you know, as a entity or an organization was only two years long I- in my head just seeing the amount of work that was put into it and and just seeing kind of the momentum around it. I thought it was around for like a decade at the very least.

Deborah 24:48
Yeah, it was really quite incredible in the first month alone. So May 1st of 2020 is when our birthday is okay then by the end of May, I had already recorded a 10 minute video with a group associate with NASA for a hackathon, and I explained, what one health is there. And I say in that video, you can look it up. But I say, and we have 10 languages in process, and that was within the first month, people had to translate these lessons so that they could bring them into the communities. And yeah, I’m just ever grateful for the volunteers around the world. Because up until now, this has been 100% volunteer.

Sujani 25:27
You know, so many questions. I’m stuck for, like, where to start. But maybe I’ll start with this, you know, you’ve gotten a lot of individuals and organizations interested in this. And I guess for people in the PH SPOT community who kind of reach out because they’re passionate about starting an initiative, what would be kind of your advice and recommendation in terms of to putting out your passion project out into the world? And then finding people to support that project? I guess, what did you learn during this journey of building one health?

Deborah 26:01
Yeah, building One Health lessons. Yeah. So find added value, don’t replicate what anybody else is doing. If something else is already happening, contribute to what’s already happening, do not recreate the wheel, it’s diluting the effect and you truly don’t want that you shouldn’t want that because of your mission is pure, then ultimately, you are just looking for the end goal, which is your mission. When it comes to one health lessons. While there was some material out there that had kind believes similar efforts, it was clear that the creators had not regularly gone into a classroom of 38 year olds at a time and taught, you know, on paper, it looked good. So because of my background teaching, because of my background with veterinary medicine and one health, I’m able to combine my two experiences into that one mission, the word of advice would be, you know, first off, look around and see if anybody else is doing what you want to do, if they are already doing it, join their mission, contribute to their mission. If there’s truly nothing that you see as something that is needed in this world, time management, and public speaking is absolutely key.

Sujani 27:23
Because you have to go out and promote your work, right?

Deborah 27:28
Yeah, I mean, get on to Toastmasters, and work, work, work and don’t give up until you achieve your goal.

Sujani 27:33
I think something else that you said were after your 10 hour clinical shift, you just went home one day and started writing out all these lessons. I think it’s that act of just doing something just getting that idea started. I think that’s that’s the point that takes a lot of time then after that things kind of snowball, because you’re, you’re building on that momentum. And that just feeling good about putting something out there, right. I don’t know, if you felt the same way. It was just like getting to that point of taking the first step took a long time. But after that, it kind of snowballs.

Deborah 28:06
It’s interesting. When you think about some of the skills that you might possess, you might not recognize that you have them until you utilize them. When I started creating lessons about one health. It was years after I was standing before, you know so many students on a regular basis, but I still remembered how to do it. Because I was so practiced. Yeah, I’m just, I’m just nostalgic right now. But when you do something that you love, it can relax you it can feed your passion as well. I know it sounds funny to others, that you create lessons after 10 hours of work, but it was the way in class. It was what I needed at that time in my life.

Sujani 28:55
Yeah, it’s truly energizing right to be a creator and to create whatever that form looks like for you some people it’s art, some people it’s gardening and for you it was creating lessons and in for me it was building PH SPOT so I completely connect with that. Okay, so keeping an eye on the clock, I am wondering how can our listeners if they’re at all kind of interested in your mission behind one health lessons, support you as you know, our listeners are mostly public health professionals. And I think you don’t need to convince them that one health is important. But are there any ways that folks can perhaps support this mission or maybe connect with you?

Deborah 29:35
Oh, absolutely. Thanks for that question. So one health lessons. We are on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, we have a YouTube channel so please subscribe there. It certainly helps us if you subscribe. LinkedIn, we’re quite busy on LinkedIn we’re even on TikTok.

Sujani 29:53

Deborah 29:54
Follow us, connect with us, comment, and participate in all of our webinars that we do. We do one medicine events, we do lots of Professor perspective series. And the more people who join, the better it is, we have more involvement and interaction with our team around the world, which is great. Another way to contribute is to become a certified lesson leader. So we have a trainer program, which is only four hours of training, but it’s very specific training, the first hour is to go through an orientation session that’s live with another person is live. And it teaches you how to communicate about public health and one health to a 16 year old, a 60 year old and a six year old, very different techniques. The second hour is to observe a lesson that I have recorded and take a quiz afterward. And the quiz is not about one health or public health, the quiz is about communicating the subjects the third hour is to observe a live lesson to be taught online or in person. And then the fourth hour is to you actually teach a live lesson. And then you get a certificate after that. And then you can become a one health lessons ambassador. And those are the individuals who train others in their communities how to teach these lessons.

Sujani 31:08
And then like if folks complete this training, and they’re interested in going out into the communities and teaching, is that like a connection that you established for them? Or are they on their own to go find organizations or an audience, I suppose.

Deborah 31:22
If they’re ambassadors is up to them to find their audience. Because we are working in so many different countries with so many cultures, it’s that much more meaningful if somebody comes from that particular village or town or city.

Sujani 31:37

Deborah 31:37
And, you know, presents the idea of going into the classroom and teaching. But we give you the skills to do that to other things to help contribute to what health lessons is you can always translate. There are hundreds of volunteer translators, who because of them, we can have these lessons taught in various communities around the world.

Sujani 31:57

Deborah 31:57
And then of course, there’s donations, we are 501 C three in the United States, that means a nonprofit. So you donate then you can get a tax refund if you’re donating from the United States. So all that information is on our website.

Sujani 32:13
Yeah, we’ll definitely link that up. So folks can go explore that more and connect with your team. We talk quite a bit about science communication. And I think I can let you go without talking about your book, The Art of science, communication, sharing knowledge with students, public and policymakers something that is absolutely important for all public health professionals to know how to do. Yeah, tell us about the birth of that book.

Deborah 32:39
Thank you. The idea of this book came from my time on Capitol Hill in the United States in Washington, DC, I was constantly taking meetings with scientists, engineers, physicians, veterinarians, public health specialists, and I saw over and over and over again, even lobbyists, believe it or not, they’re explaining something coming from their niche background. But there needs to be a translation to help my side of the boardroom table, my side, like the policymakers. So after having these meetings, my colleagues go up to me and they say, Deb, can you translate this for us? Why is this important? What do we need to know? So I was constantly doing that. And I thought, I can’t keep this in my head. Because when it comes to public health, when it comes to medicine, when it comes to climate change, when you know all of these huge, huge, huge things, we have to make sure that not only do we understand what we’re talking about, we have to explain it to a person who’s never before had class on public health. And we have to explain in a manner that is appealing, memorable, and easy to comprehend. So I wrote this book, and it’s divided into three sections. The first section is about how to communicate with students, children, because if you’re going to be communicating with the public or with policymakers, you need to make sure that you can deliver your message in such a simple way that anybody can understand it. Then the middle section is how to communicate science in general with the public. And then the whole last third of the book is dedicated to how to communicate with policymakers in London, wherever you are. There are definitely tips and tricks in this book that will surprise you. I have had this vetted by many people who have had the similar experience. Even my colleagues on Capitol Hill looked at this book and they said, Wow, this book should have come out decades ago.

Sujani 34:50
Possibly be part of reading material, right?

Deborah 34:53
Yeah. Mandatory reading for university. Absolutely.

Sujani 34:57
When I discovered the book, I was definitely going to order it and give it a read, because health communication is something that I enjoy, and I think is quite important than will also shout it to wherever I get the opportunity to do so.

Deborah 35:10
Yeah, thank you for that. And thanks for bringing up the book. I hope that it serves the mission in that it’s meant to change lives and policies and protect public health around the world.

Sujani 35:23
Absolutely. Yeah. I think with the pandemic, we’re seeing the importance of that even more.

Deborah 35:28
Yeah, it’s truly needed.

Sujani 35:29
Okay, so with PH SPOT, our mission is to help build dream public health careers. And I am curious to hear what comes to mind about your own life when you hear the word dream public health career?

Deborah 35:45
One health lessons, it combines my two passions, education and one health, I have to say it’s so rewarding to see people take action based on what they’ve learned from one health lessons, either through the train the trainer program, or the translating. I get pictures from around the world, students learning and that’s one of the things that keeps me going. And it’s such a pleasure to find you Sujani, you know, via LinkedIn, and then and then this, of course, and just find like minded people who are truly committed to a similar mission. And I look forward to future communications with you too, Sujani. So thanks so much.

Sujani 36:27
No problem, pleasures mine, and you just had your second birthday for one health lessons, what do you kind of foresee for the near future, we know what your vision is, you know, a sustainable planet changing society. And I’ve seen the- the evolution of also your role within one help lessons change on LinkedIn from like, founder and president and now CEO, one health lesson. So what do you see, I guess, for the next couple of years with where you want to take One Health lessons?

Deborah 36:57
Honestly, I’m so excited about this, I am so excited. Because now that we are a 501, C three, we can get donations. And that means that instead of just teaching 20,000 children like well, we did in the last two years, we can teach 2 million children or more, if we had funds, what we could do is expand the trainer trainer program, what we could do is create more lessons, what we can do is, you know, go out into refugee camps, you know, teach these important lessons to start to change some lives, do that around the world. And I am so incredibly excited with the projects that we have in mind. But now that we have the 501 C three, the nonprofit status, I think that we’ll be able to lift off as you say, to fly because we’ve been running for takeoff. And now we can actually fly. And we have a committed team, which is that much more exciting.

Sujani 38:00
And I just want to wish you all the best and whether PH SPOT, you know, our team or our community can support in that, please. Let’s- let’s chat some more.

Deborah 38:10
Thank you.

Sujani 38:14
Hey, so before you go, as promised, here’s a bit more about the public health career club. So when I think back to the successes that I have had about the almost 70 or so guests that I’ve interviewed, who have discussed their successes, or when I think about the hundreds of professionals that I’ve interacted with, a lot of the reflections circle back to having had the right people around us, right? And so knowing the power of this, whether we call it community, or we call it support circle, or your Public Health Network, essentially we’re talking about the people we surround ourselves with who lead us to success. And so knowing this, we are launching the public health career club, with the vision of building the largest global public health community. So essentially, we are building the space rooted in community to become the number one hangout spot dedicated to building and growing your dream public health career. And in addition to being able to connect and build meaningful relationships with other public health professionals from all around the world, the club will also offer other great resources for a career growth and success, such as mindset coaching, job preparation, clinics, career growth strategy sessions in the form of workshops, seminars, and talks, all delivered by experts and inspiring individuals in these areas. And so you can learn more about how to join the club by visiting And we officially will be opening the doors in October of 2022 with perks for founding members. So be sure to get on the waitlist for more information. That’s where we’ll be communicating all the information. And so to kind of wrap this up, I want to tell you that, you know, as I built the PH SPOT community these past five years, and now, as we are working to build up the public health career club, this one quote from Oprah always comes to mind. And it’s this, surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. And that’s exactly the space we are creating. As a space that’s being intentionally curated to bring together like minded public health professionals from all around the world, who will not only push themselves to become the best versions of themselves, but also each other. And I can’t wait to see how this will have a ripple effect in the world as we work to better the health of our populations. And I hope you will be joining us.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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