Dentistry, public health, and entrepreneurship, with Daniel Faber

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Show Notes

Sujani sits down with Daniel Faber to talk about his public health journey. Dr. Daniel Faber started his professional career as a dentist where he developed as a clinician and entrepreneur. He started his dental practice from scratch, where he learned skills in business, marketing, branding and a focus on effective patient communication which has helped scale into other types of ventures. And 10 years into his practice, he felt this desire to do more, and that’s when he pivoted into public health pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health at Yale University. Daniel speaks about the journey he’s taken, from dentistry to public health, and his passion for entrepreneurship.


You’ll Learn

  • How Daniel became interested in dentistry, and the entrepreneurial spark he has always had
  • About being a dentist, and what that role entailed: an individualistic profession that allows you to build relationships with patients
  • What pushed Daniel to explore public health, including the frustrations of not being able to prevent disease/problems; how his pivot into public health came from a desire to evolve his career
  • The decision to pursue a Master of Public Health degree, and how it felt like a natural evolution for his career
  • Why he chose to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at Yale University and a bit about the MPH program there
  • With his global health concentration, dentistry background and entrepreneurial interest where he hopes to go with this career
  • His passion and interest in entrepreneurship, including a discussion on social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship
  • Using technology to improve access to care to underserved populations
  • About his dream job: to create something


Today’s Guest

Dr. Daniel Faber

Dr. Daniel Faber started his professional career as a dentist where he developed as a clinician and as an entrepreneur. Starting a practice from scratch, he learned skills in business, marketing, branding and a focus on effective patient communication which has helped scale into other types of ventures. Dan has pivoted into public health pursuing a Master in Public Health at Yale University where he aspires to apply his previous experience to confront issues such as obesity, hunger, nutrition, healthier food availability, access to care, etc to help craft upstream, impactful, creative solutions. He’s passionate about innovation and creative collaboration to effect meaningful change.


Other PH SPOT resources:

Episode Transcript

Daniel 0:00
You know, in my mind, I’m like, I could coast like this for the rest of my life. Right? I could just keep on doing this. And, and, and I guess that would be what it would be, you know, what will my life wouldn’t be what my career would be, but there’s just something in me that was- that was nagging at me and I was, I guess it was a combination of, you know, just constantly, just the monotony of doing the same thing every day.

Sujani 0:23
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:38
Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space where you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva. I am the host of PH SPOTlight and I’m here to help you build your public health career. On today’s podcast episode, I am sitting down with Daniel Faber. Dr. Daniel Faber started his professional career as a dentist, where he developed as a clinician and as an entrepreneur, he started his dental practice from scratch, where he learned skills in business, marketing, branding, and a focus on effective patient communication, which has helped scale into other types of ventures. And then 10 years into his practice, he felt this desire to do more. And that’s when he pivoted into public health pursuing a Master in Public Health at Yale University, where he aspires to apply his previous experience to confront issues such as obesity, hunger, nutrition, healthier food availability, access to care and more, to help craft upstream impactful creative solutions. So I sat down with Daniel to speak about this journey that he’s taken and a bit about pursuing an MPH at Yale University, and then also about what he hopes to do in the future, given his background in dentistry, his interest in entrepreneurship, and then now public health. So, as the title says, we talk about it all dentistry, public health and entrepreneurship. And here’s our conversation.

Sujani 2:24
Hey, Daniel, thank you so much for joining me on this podcast to share your public health journey, which I was telling you before we started to hit record that on a personal level, I’m super excited to hear because I was once interested in pursuing dentistry. I don’t know if I mentioned that in an email to you. And then I changed my path and university as I discovered public health and epidemiology. And so there’s always a little bit of me that wonders what my journey would have been like if I had gone down that route. So for that reason, I’m, I’m so excited to talk to you.

Daniel 3:00
Oh, thank you. Thank you, I really appreciate you having me, Sujani. It’s really a pleasure to be here. And it’s, it’s interesting to hear that other people are interested in dentistry, because it’s not one of those professions often that you know, people are super excited to go to as a patient often you hear, but it’s great to hear that people have professional interest.

Sujani 3:18
Yeah, for me, it was really like I was interested in health that was interested in like, working my hands with tools and stuff. And for some reason, I figured dentistry could give me that, like passion for both. And, you know, I didn’t explore it too much. But yeah, that’s why I’m really excited to hear about your, your journey. So, you know, now that our listeners know that you are a dentist, maybe we can start off by getting to know that side of your work before diving into this public health journey that you’ve recently taken on. So, yeah, can you tell us a little bit about how you became interested in dentistry and kind of that journey?

Daniel 3:57
Sure. So like, like you when I was younger, and I was in college, I always knew I wanted to work with people and help people in really in health care. And I just explored different areas explored medicine, and I explored dentistry in where I went to college close by there was actually a dental residency and I was able to volunteer there and I just became interested in the, in what they were doing and the and, you know, the kind of things you just said, using your hands, you know, the ability to actually physically do something to improve someone’s health, also, developing relationships with patients. You know, I think I read somewhere that or there was some kind of ad I saw somewhere where it said something about dentistry being you know, part psychiatry, part medicine, part art, and it just all those things kind of combined into something that really appealed to me. And that’s kind of what got me on that map part of my journey.

Sujani 4:54
Okay. And so you know, right after undergrad you went right into dentistry or did you take some time to explore other careers?

Daniel 5:04
No, I really well, originally, when I went to college, I was interested in architecture. And I, you know, just the aspect of building something and creating something from, you know, with your creativity, and using art and that kind of that was my original kind of path and kind of diverted into into wanting to help people. And that kind of combined that. So I right from, when I was in college, I pretty much decided that I think it was somewhere in my junior year that I was going to be applying to dental school and, and that would be my path. And I went straight through I went right through from from undergrad to dental school, and you know, didn’t really have a break in between.

Sujani 5:45
Okay, and then you just start up your practice, I guess immediately after and spent some time there.

Daniel 5:51
So yeah, so after dental school, I did residency and work for a couple of years. And it was always, I always had it in me that I guess pretty much no matter what I what kind of profession I was in, I just kind of had this entrepreneur entrepreneurial, kind of spark in me that I knew that I wanted to start my own practice at some point. So pretty much, you know, I guess after dental school a couple years I’d worked in and I actually, I had a friend from dental school, a friend of mine who was doing his residency in the Air Force. So he had committed, I think, four years to the Air Force. And he was coming back out, he was stationed out west and he wanted to come back out east. And I it was just kind of serendipitous that, at the time, the timing of it that I said, Hey, you want to come out and start a practice out here, I’d moved to Connecticut from New York City. And, you know, he kind of took a leap of faith, he had a- he had a young family as I did. And he came out and we started a practice from scratch. And it was kind of a kind of a, you know, was the whole thing was kind of a leap of faith. It was a we kind of just jumped in with both feet and had zero patients the first day, we were answering the phones, and it was very much a grassroots kind of- kind of operation at the time.

Sujani 7:08
And I guess, you know, from a patient’s point of view, which- which would be me, going into dentists, I kind of know what your day to day looks like from that point of view. But as a dentist, did you feel like you could explore, you know, population level health? Sitting in that dental chair?

Daniel 7:30
It’s interesting. I would say no, and I mean, that in a good way. I think dentistry, dentistry is a very individualistic profession, as in as is, I guess, a lot of areas of medicine. Yeah, it’s very personalized, you know, we’re building relationships with with patients directly. I mean, you know, you know, maybe from your own experiences, you know, if you’ve had a good relationship with your, with your dentist, it’s, you know, it’s a long relationship, potentially, from when you’re a child. And, you know, we like I truly valued that aspect of the profession. So I never it never, in a way, I mean, obviously, an individual patient’s health was of paramount importance to me. And I never really thought about it from the, from the population level perspective, because dentistry itself is like, I mean, when you think about it such a minute, you’re working in such a small space, even even physically, that it’s really, it really was a mind shift for me to kind of, in a desired mind shift for me to want to kind of pivot from, you know, that private practice individual patient attention to more of a population level perspective.

Sujani 8:41
I asked that question, because, you know, in speaking to a few handful of physicians, I’ve heard from kind of their perspective that seeing patients over and over again, and seeing that their kind of illnesses never really went away, and they felt like they were just treating them, you know, at that point in time, but they felt that they couldn’t do something that was more at a system level. Right And that’s kind of what pushed them into public health. So curious to hear if that was kind of what prompted you to make that decision? Or if it was something different?

Daniel 9:17
I would say it’s a combination of things. I mean, I think you’re hitting the nail on the head with the whole idea of the frustration with like, the downstream perspective of medicine and healthcare and dentistry in general. I mean, you’re really as a dentist and you know, a lot of medicine, it’s frustrating, to not be able to prevent disease, and you’re really just dealing with the, the after effects of disease, right? We’re just treating, you know, things have gone bad and now we’re now we’re just treating it we’re not really preventing problems and that that aspect from a, from a, I guess, a health care philosophy, philosophical perspective, definitely bugged me. But, but also, you know, my pivot towards public health was kind of one also of just a desire to change my just kind of evolved in my career just kind of like when you describe your, you know, talking about my journey, I mean, that really, that really was my perspective. I mean, at the time, I was about, I’d say 10 years into my, into my startup practice, we were doing very well as a business, you know, we were treating patients really well, we had a good reputation in the community, everything was fine. And, you know, in my mind, I’m like, I could coast like this for the rest of my life, right, I could just keep on doing this. And, and, and I guess that would be what it would be, you know, what will my life wouldn’t be what my career would be, but there’s just something in me that was that was nagging at me. And I was, I guess, it was a combination of, you know, just constantly just the monotony of doing the same thing every day. I mean, that could get to anybody. But also the idea of, of that downstream effect of wanting to getting frustrated with, you know, I want to I wanted to make a difference, and have- have some more meaning beyond what I was doing. And I think that’s kind of what prompted me to kind of just put it in my brain that I that I needed to pivot out of what I was currently doing.

Sujani 11:08
And so was, like it MPH or public health and natural next step, or did you weigh different options?

Daniel 11:16
I actually weighed- I mean, I weighed different options. The, I’d say, the decision to go into public health almost, and to some extent, still is, you know, in exploration itself. I mean, I think, you know, I mean, I had, you know, if you had described my background, and you know, I had a background in healthcare, I had a background sort of in business, and I because I had to deal with all aspects of the business and marketing and things like that. So, you know, I could have said, oh, I’m gonna go into business and do an MBA or something like that. And I decided MPH, just was a natural evolution for me, just because I, I really want my career and my future career to have meaning like, I wanted it to have to make a difference. And not that business can’t do that. But I wanted that- that little difference in people to make difference in people’s lives. So that was kind of the reason I would say, and I think going to public health is compared to dentistry, which is very focused and into a a minut area, you know, I mean, dentistry is so focused in literally in the mouth, right? But also, you know, from a philosophical perspective, it’s your- it’s not population level, right. The public health, I would say, it’s the complete opposite in a way. So I was able to kind of, I want to kind of focus upstream and, and try to make a difference from the other side of dentistry. If that makes any sense.

Sujani 12:47
Yeah, no, it totally does. And you said, you know, you were running your practice for about 10 years? How long would you say you were like, in that decision process of wanting to do something else with your career? Was it kind of, like an overnight thing? Or was it years?

Daniel 13:05
I would say, I would say it was years. I mean, you know, probably, I don’t know, I don’t- I can’t pinpoint exactly the point was, but probably a few couple years before I sold my practice, and really made the move. I was, you know, I was kind of thinking about it. It was, you know, it was an evolution over time, you know, I mean, I’ve spoken to other people also that have had similar issues, you know, issues in their career where they’re just kind of just not feeling it anymore, right. They’re not feeling that initial drive that really, that really put them there in the first place. And they’re just wanting to evolve past that point. And some people are very happy, just keep on going, because they really enjoy what they’re doing. And they they see see that meaning and so it was definitely a, it was definitely a process over time, I would say.

Sujani 13:50
Okay, and then you end up applying and getting into Yale, which I guess was location, kind of the factor that pushed you to apply there. What sort of things were you looking for when exploring an MPH program?

Daniel 14:05
Yeah, so, I definitely explored a few programs. I live in Connecticut, so I’m right- I’m about an hour outside of New York City. So there’s definitely options of several programs around. Ironically, my impetus for- for- for deciding to, you know, apply to Yale and hopefully get into that and, and start the program there was, I really wanted to have that physical experience of being on campus and interacting with the faculty and the other students and really start to kind of, you know, really be in it physically, as well as intellectually, but obviously, you know, current conditions aren’t exactly allowing that because of COVID but I’m still still getting a lot of experience in you know, it pushes. It’s definitely pushing me to be a lot more proactive and reaching out to people and, and pursuing, you know, other opportunities in public health and And then that- that kind of thing.

Sujani 15:03
And I guess maybe we can talk about the Yale MPH program a little bit, if you don’t mind, just for listeners who may be interested to pursue an MPH at Yale or just consider it as one of the programs they apply to, if you don’t mind sharing about it. Yeah.

Daniel 15:19
Sure. I mean, obviously yells a fantastic school, you know, the facilities. And I mean, besides the facilities, the the resources there, and the exposure to some of the, you know, most brilliant minds and in public health, or just, you know, pretty much at your fingertips even even physically not being there, you know, the access is tremendous. I mean, they get speakers from all over to come. I mean, they, they have Dr. Fauci and all kinds of people coming and, and they just have that that exposure, which is, I think, the best part about those kinds of schools, you know, not that other schools don’t, can’t don’t or can’t get that, but, you know, Yale has a reputation and, and even, you know, the President Elect Biden’s whole head of his team, for COVID task force all come from Yale, and and some of them are active professors still there. So it just has this tremendous tradition and, and history and, and, you know, active resources for public health. I mean, it’s just, it’s really cool to, to be a part of it. I mean, I’ll take a, I could be I’m currently taking obesity class, where you’re getting, you know, guest lecturers who are just local to the school or just their, you know, the head of, you know, bariatric surgery of Yale is, you know, a world renowned guy, and he’s, you know, teaching you, you know, Tuesday at class, you know, it’s kind of it’s really neat.

Sujani 16:47
Yeah, yeah, that is, and it’s a is it a two year program at Yale?

Sujani 16:52
So it the answer is it depends. So if you are I, you know, because there’s a program called AP, which is advanced professional, so they have a, an advanced professional level, MPH program, which basically means that if you’re, you know, some kind of health professional already, I don’t know, I’m not exactly sure the, you know, the, what they consider advanced professional or not, but definitely physicians, dentists, psychologists, and there’s, there’s, there’s a variety of other professionals who are there who- there’s a lot, I mean, there’s a lawyer in the program. So, there’s definitely a variety of professions that can apply for the AP program. And in that program, my program lasts an accelerated summer, which is actually which is very, very accelerated, it was it was not easy. And in a full academic year. So that’s how the AP works. But normally, if it’s not AP, and you’re just applying as a traditional, from undergrad or just as a graduate student, it’s, I believe it’s a two year- two year program.

Sujani 17:57
Okay? And are the AP students kind of kept together? And then kind of the traditional group kept together? Do they get to mingle and kind of learn from each other there?

Daniel 18:08
No, that’s the cool thing about Yale, so at the beginning, during that summer program, it’s just us because we’re the only ones doing that summer program.

Sujani 18:14

Daniel 18:15
But from this point, you know, from the, in the academic year, we’re just mixed with all the other AP students, or sorry, all the other masters students and public health students. But the cool thing is, we’re actually mixed a lot. I mean, I’ve many classes with non public health people. So, you know, I’ll have classes with law students, and medical school students, and even even a few undergrads who take graduate courses. And, Yale allows you to go beyond the public health school if you want. And, you know, maybe take some classes outside the public health school, depending on your, on your specific curriculum and in public health. So I’m a global health concentration. So I can take some classes in the, in the School of Management and in the business and in the law school. And they’ve been some really interesting classes and, and the ability to really mix and mingle with some other kinds of students is really I think, enriched, enriched. My appreciation for public health. And you really do see differences to interesting between the kinds of students that go to the different the different schools, it’s interesting.

Sujani 19:20
It is, yeah, I felt like during my MPH, that was kind of the best parts of the classes was just learning from all the students. We had a lot of international students. So just hearing from their perspective and how public health was run in their countries was so enriching to the- to the course that we were doing.

Daniel 19:37

Sujani 19:38
Yeah. Okay, so you kind of mentioned that you were in the global health concentration, which is a nice segue to kind of the next theme of what I want to talk about is what you’re hoping to pursue after graduating from an MPA just given your dentistry background, your entrepreneurial interest, and then now public health, global health?

Daniel 20:02
Yeah, so I mean, you know, global health is I mean, obviously a vast, vast area. And, you know, it’s interesting, taking a lot of this global- the global health classes and getting in, you know, a much broader perspective of, of what’s going on the world in a way also kind of makes you more fine tuned into what’s going on in your own community, right, because you realize, wow, these problems are happening, you know, in these faraway places, and then you look back and you look at your own plate home, or your own home, your own air, your own country, like, wow, these are some of the same problems are going on here. So in a way, it makes you more just holistically in tune. So, you know, it’s actually really hard to answer that question. But, you know, from what I’m experiencing, when I first went to public health might- wasn’t necessarily like, I’m a dentist, going to public health, that really wasn’t my perspective, my perspective was, I’m going there to expand beyond dentistry, that was kind of my original mindset. And, you know, I’m a dentist, this is where I started. And now I’m going to kind of branch off in it kind of advanced into a broader view of healthcare. And I still have that view, to some extent, but I do think it helps, especially for these people in the AP program, everybody’s coming from an actual profession. So the idea of actually kind of enhance using the public health education, to enhance your experience as that professional really just kind of is very low hanging fruit in a way.

Daniel 21:42
Yeah, so I’m kind of seeing dentistry as- as kind of my, probably my way to start getting into public health, you know, as as a profession, just because I’m a dentist, I know the terrain, I know, the logistics of what’s going on in dental care, and even with, you know, underserved populations, so it just seems like a logical area to place to start, but it’s not necessarily where I want to finish, I kind of want to you get into dentistry, and potentially just see where that goes. And, and hopefully get, you know, into more into broader areas, because I think in public health, you know, we really tackle these broad problems. And but we try to do it in very specific ways. And, you know, at school, you know, you talked about the entrepreneur kind of thing.

Sujani 22:37

Daniel 22:37
You know, I still, it’s still in my gut, and I still lean towards that. And I did take I took a class called social entrepreneurship, which is just really eye opening. And it was taught by this professor Teresa Shaheen, who’s a, who’s a, you know, she teaches at Yale, I think, you know, she comes from Harvard, and she, she’s really one of the people on the forefront of, of social entrepreneurship as an educate as- as far as educating it in it. And it really comes down, what I really took away from it was, you know, I think a lot of like, it’s a, it’s a big buzzword, I say, buzzword. But even when you watch things like Shark Tank, or those kinds of shows, it’s kind of like the in thing to be socially minded with these businesses. But it’s almost like sometimes a, just a trend, or a or just a, something just to make themselves look good. And that’s not really what I learned that social- social entrepreneur really is. And there are good hearted people out there trying to do good things with business. But I think it really comes down to you know, from what I learned systems change, and trying to really make a difference across across businesses. And I know rambling a little bit, but no, no one, one of the things that she taught which really just struck a chord with me, was this idea of something called extrapartnership, which sounds weird, sounds like a made up word. And she, she’s, she kind of thinks she did make up the word, although I’ve seen it around a little bit. But essentially, what it means is, you know, a lot of people think I’m a social entrepreneur, so I’m just gonna go out and start a business that helps XYZ. Whereas, you know, people kind of lose the track of the fact that extra partnership, the idea is, you go out there and you and you try to make change across businesses and other organizations. In other words, you don’t have to start a business for every idea you have, you can go out there and help other businesses or other nonprofits that are already established already doing great things and you can help make them stronger. And, you know, and her point, which kind of was very interesting, was that, theoretically, if everybody starts a business, you know, it kind of- Everybody kind of cancels themselves itself out. If everybody, everybody started a profit for every everything they wanted to do, there’s just too many nonprofits out there kind of fighting for the same dollars. And that just doesn’t make any sense. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a-

Sujani 25:14
No, no, I liked that. I was going to say, I’ve heard of the of the term intrapreneurship, where, you know, within your own organization, you try to be innovative, you try to solve problems, and not just, you know, stick with the status quo. But then, yeah, extra partnership is a new word. And I’m thinking, like, is this more of like a consultant type role where you go to different organizations and you consult from, like being an external person? Or is she suggesting, as an employee of those organizations, you go in and try to help them? Which is kind of the same thing as an intrapreneur?

Daniel 25:49
Right, that would be intrapreneur, where you’re in the organization, you’re an employee, and you can make a difference within? And that total- Obviously, that makes complete sense and is definitely use use a lot.

Sujani 26:01

Daniel 26:02
The extrapreneur idea? I think, I think her perspective, was that, or the perspective is that, you know, people can start these- these initiatives, these health initiatives, the kind of, you know, try to make differences across multiple, multiple areas. And it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s a little bit of a, a nondescriptive term, I guess, but it’s, but you know, I think- I think the idea is that you don’t have to, for example, you don’t have to go out and develop a new, a new software, you potentially can work with a company that already has an established software that you can leverage, you can collaborate with them, and then partner them with somebody else to make your- to make change the way your- your- your goal is, I guess it’s just- it’s being- it’s kind of being like a social change agent instead of a, instead of an entrepreneur just starting from scratch.

Sujani 26:58
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you if you have readings written by her, we should certainly link that up in the show notes for individuals w might be interested in exploring that a bit more.

Daniel 27:09
Yeah, sure.

Sujani 27:09
Yeah. Yeah, just kind of keeping to that entrepreneurial theme. I was reading a little bit about kind of the work that you’ve done with the not only with a dental practice, but I think you also went on to develop this web based dental staffing platform.

Daniel 27:26

Sujani 27:27
In the tech startup area. Yeah no, I’m curious to hear if you’ve brainstormed ideas or thought about ways where you could use tech and public health and solve problems that way? If that’s what you’re considering?

Daniel 27:43
Absolutely. I mean, you know, I mean, you could I don’t know if you could tell by talking to me, I’m definitely an idea guy I’m thinking about, that’s just how my brain works. I, you know, I, you know, if you saw my note app on my phone, it’s like, 1000s of different ideas, but I’m really good at kind of refining my ideas and realizing which ones are completely nuts, and then realizing which ones are not. So the i- So my original that what you’re referencing is this app I created called Fillings. It’s not actually active right now. But when I- it was kind of, I would say, that was part of my, you know, when you asked about, you know, did I decide to stop dentistry right away or, or not, that was kind of during my, my transition from my practice phase. So I kind of did have that I was developing that idea when I was transitioning from my practice. So it was kind of like a, I call it a bridge venture when I was vet, pivoting from my practice. So essentially, what it was, was a staffing platform for dentists to hire people, because the hiring process in dentistry was kind of clunky, and antiquated. And it just needed modernization. And at the time, there wasn’t really any many options out there, technologically. So I was developing one of these early apps, it kind of had a little bit of a life actually started to get a little bit of traction with it, had some, you know, even presented to some investors who were interested and, and some things like that. So, I would say, I would- I learned a ton from that. I mean, the did the company or anything didn’t really go anywhere. But I learned a ton about development, user experience. You know, the- I’m not a programmer, but I had a programming partner who taught me a ton about how everything works, were wireframing. So I learned all these skills, that- that I, you know, that I took from that, that I definitely apply in the future. And, you know, getting back to, you know, into dentistry. I mean, I have some very interesting, I want to say interesting, I have some ideas about improving access to care for underserved populations using- potentially using an app, you know, I, I see that one of the one of the just as an example, you know, at least in Connecticut, you know, we have a program for underserved populations called Husky. It’s basically our Medicaid program. It’s great for seeing kids, and you know, pays well for kids, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t pay well for adults. And I think, you know, part of it has to do with the process for signing up for Husky and just- just the logistics of the whole thing. So, you know, I have some ideas about how to improve that by using holes in dentists schedules and things like that, like there’s a in, you know, one thing I learned from practice, is that there’s a lot of holes in the schedule, especially for cleanings. So why not take advantage of all that wasted leverage, you know, why not leverage that time, that’s all that’s wasted all the dentists resources, and the employee just sitting there, and the hygienist just sitting there? Why can’t that serve an underserved person?

Sujani 31:01

Daniel 31:01
And, you know, and but how would you do that, you probably have to get some kind of technology involved to streamline that process. So there’s things like that. They’re just roaming, going through my mind. But, you know, but we’ll see, we’ll see where that goes.

Sujani 31:17
No, we’ll definitely have to get you back on the show. Once you start pursuing one of those ideas, I do have a mini- mini series on entrepreneurship and public health. And we’d love to have you know, more and more entrepreneurs who are pursuing different ideas within the field of public health come and share their journeys, just so that it inspires others to think outside the box and solve some of these huge problems we have in public health.

Daniel 31:45
Yeah, and just a little aside, I mean, that’s, that’s awesome that you’re doing that. And just a reference that I talked a lot about this, that course I took, but within that course, the most inspirational part of it was that pretty much every week, we had somebody in this- in the entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs’ space come in, and present their company, and we actually talk to them about some of the products, helping them with some of their problems that they were having in their company. But it’s so inspirational to see what kind of things people are doing out there strictly for public good. I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, they’re not trying to necessarily start the next Facebook, but they’re, you know, they’re literally starting the next UN.

Sujani 32:25

Daniel 32:25
You know, the amount of help that they’re, they’re providing just through technology and, and just creative ideas. It’s really inspirational.

Sujani 32:33
Totally. Yeah, those are, those are, I think, some great features of the Yale program. It sounds.

Daniel 32:39

Sujani 32:41
And you- and you mentioned a little bit with just like, COVID, you had to go a bit online with your program. Other than that, have you found any difficulties? Or has it been a different experience doing a public health program during pandemic?

Daniel 32:59
Well, I’ve never done a public health program outside of home. So in that sense, I, it’s a little hard for me to comment, but I’ve been in school, obviously, outside of pandemic. It’s challenging. I mean, you know, I give a lot of ton of credit to these professors who have to figure out how to navigate the technology. I mean, it’s super challenging when these teachers have to, you know, teach, especially when they have to teach live and to a zoom audience, it’s really, it seems really difficult. And it’s, and it is, I think, it’s, it’s actually better when it’s one way or the other completely one way or the other, in my opinion, because, you know, some and some professors have done phenomenal jobs, have a really cate- you know, just changing their whole style and catering to to the ZOOM audience. And, and sometimes it’s I you know, I feel like the class is enhanced because of it. And many other times I feel like, you know, I’m really missing out, you know, so it’s, it’s hit and miss. Absolutely. I don’t think Yale’s anything any different than any other school in that way. I think everybody’s, you know, even my kids are, you know, are dealing with their their challenges at school with the same in you know, it’s interesting, you know, as a student now myself, yeah, I have- I have conversations with my children, which are, which were, you know, griping about the same. Same kinds of things.

Sujani 34:21
Yeah, you can connect a lot better now. Right. Yeah, no, I was wondering, I’ve kind of courses were modified to include what was happening around the world and things like that.

Daniel 34:35
Yeah. So I mean, one thing, I guess that’s kind of cool about it is that, you know, before I guess they would- you really value the idea of bringing someone live to a school and talking in front of the audience. Now, you know, it’s, you know, it’s not even possible. So, you know, you’re getting people from all over the world who are just coming on, zoom to a bunch of other people on a zoom. And you’re able to access and have these people on And who normally, you might, you know, you’d have to wait months to go see in a, you know, in an in a theater or, you know, in an auditorium with with a live audience. So, in that sense, I think there’s, there’s definitely, I think there’s definitely positives to it. The I would say the biggest, you know, the, for me, at least the biggest drawback is the inability to, you know, really interact with other students. I mean, I think, I mean, from your own experience, I’m sure, you’ll, you know, agree that, you know, a lot of the learning that you do is from your classmates, right, and, you know, just sitting next to a student, ask a question or, or having coffee between classes or, or whatnot, you know, there’s so so many ideas and so many things, you can talk about that, you know, it’s really a challenge to do now.

Sujani 35:44
It is, yeah. I mean, students and professors, like you said, are doing such a tremendous job just to make things work, which hopefully doesn’t last too long.

Daniel 35:54
Right now, but they aren’t doing you know, I give them credit. I’m, it’s not, it’s not an easy job.

Sujani 35:58
So no, it’s not. Yeah, so maybe I wanted to wrap it up. We- I feel like I kind of know the answer to this. But once you graduate, what do you think your kind of dream job is going to be with this public health degree?

Daniel 36:14
You know, I mean, my dream job, I guess, is always creating something. I mean, whatever, whatever it is. And like I was saying before, this is the whole idea of that extra partnership kind of thing. What’s really, I think, broaden my perspective, is that it doesn’t have like, in my mind, I always thought, if I’m going to create something, it’s got to be on my own, it’s got to be with my, you know, my own grit, and I got to build it. And it has to be, you know, with my own two hands, and I have to be the boss and all this stuff. And it wasn’t because I want to control and everything’s just because that’s what I that was what I thought the only option was, but now it’s really broadened my perspective to be like, you know, what, I can take my creativity, all these entrepreneur ideas, and just partner with other people who may already be farther along. Because all I care about is just making change, right? If you- if all you care about is making change, you don’t have to start a company, you can go work with somebody who’s already doing- doing some great stuff, and, and help them you know, there’s really no, no problem with that.

Sujani 37:14
No, absolutely. And in public health, there’s no shortage of organizations looking for help.

Daniel 37:20
Right. Right. And I just want to say one thing, so I actually thought about you the other day, and I was in class, I’m taking an informatics class, which is, which is, you know, interesting in itself. It’s a whole new field. And it’s, it’s, and we had a lecture, coincidentally, on data presentation, and I know you do something on, on, on

Sujani 37:42

Daniel 37:43
Infographics, and the whole thing was about infographics, and how bad some of these infographics are, and, and how, and they give some horrible, you know, some examples of how there’s, you know, you see these lines and dots, and-

Sujani 37:54

Daniel 37:54
And things all over the place. And you know, that there’s really, really, I mean, it’s- it really is the one of the most important things. And we see that even today, when we look on TV, and we see these horrible presentation of data that people misinterpret and, and it affects real life.

Sujani 38:11

Daniel 38:11
So you’re doing great work.

Sujani 38:13
Thank you. Yeah, no, communication in public health, I feel is such a big topic. And I- and I felt during my training, we didn’t get enough of it. And I mean, there’s like different ways of communicating to different audiences. But with this pandemic, I think we’ve seen how important just clear simple communication is and whatever form it can take, whether it’s visual media, or just written communication, or even oral communication with the, you know, our government officials coming on TV every morning, it’s been so important that I think the importance of it has been just highlighted so much during this pandemic.

Daniel 38:52

Sujani 38:54
No, thank you so much, Daniel, for joining me. It’s a Saturday morning. So I really, really appreciate you taking time out of your weekend to do this and sit down with me and share your journey with our PH SPOT community.

Daniel 39:07
Sujani. It’s absolutely my pleasure. And thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Sujani 39:12
I hope that conversation with Daniel has left you feeling inspired and perhaps a little curious about entrepreneurship. And so if that’s something that’s of interest to you, I really encourage you to explore entrepreneurship with a public health lens. We have another episode on PH SPOTlight related to entrepreneurship which we’ll link up in the show notes page and as always, any of the links mentioned in today’s episode will also be on that show notes page which you can find at And if you are interested in PH SPOT’s Infographics 101 for public health professionals course that Daniel mentioned, it is now open for enrollment and I’ll also include that link on our show notes page or you can head over to And you’ll find the link to the course. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.


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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