You’ve probably heard of the saying “growth and change lies outside of your comfort zone”, and this is true for our careers too. To advance in our careers, we need to do things that we are not comfortable with, whether that’s standing up and presenting at a large meeting, saying yes to a project that scares us, or perhaps even pushing a little bit more than usual, and relocating to a new city or even country for a public health experience you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.
On this episode of PH SPOTlight, Sujani sits down with one of her mentors and someone who has pushed her to continuously push past her comfort zone, James Flint. James has worked in public health at the international, national and local levels with several governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world. We talk to James about pushing past our comfort zones and we hear about some of the decisions he has made to do so, from turning down permanent job offers to moving his family across the world, all of which have been driven by his “why question for his life”. As someone who is passionate about social justice, he really wanted to craft a career where it gave him opportunities to help other people…and that’s the reason he’s constantly pushing past his comfort zone.
James has constantly been an inspiration for Sujani’s public health career, and she hopes to bring that inspiration to you as well! We hope that this conversation with James leaves you inspired to think about how you too can push past your comfort zone in your public health career so that you can keep growing and serving.
- How James is constantly thinking about pushing past his comfort zone, and doing things differently.
- That you don’t need to make drastic changes or decisions to push past your comfort zone.
- How his “why” drives his life and career choices.
- Two examples of how James pushed past his comfort zone and what he was thinking during both of these times:
- Why James turned down a permanent and safe job the day before he was supposed to start so that he could take on a temporary post that offered more scope for international work.
- Why James decided to try out the STOP Polio mission even though he didn’t know anything about polio or the country he was going to be based in.
- Why someone might be reluctant to push the boundary on their career, get out of their comfort zone and really challenge themselves.
- That everyone feels incompetent from time-to-time, and that it’s common to have those feelings.
- As a manager, James’s approach to hiring.
- About some of the work he is doing in Australia (and his work with the WHO). (Stick around to the very end to listen to this part.)
James Flint has a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and has worked in public health at the international, national and local level with several governmental and non-governmental organizations. He has worked on infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response activities with WHO and PAHO, including post-disaster surveillance and response activities in Asia and the Caribbean. James currently works with Hunter New England Health in NSW Australia, and leads a team supporting the development of Field Epidemiology Training Programs in the Pacific. James is also the founder of an international charity working in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
- Read more about James’ journey in our Thinking outside of the box series:
- In 2017, James Flint, along with the Field Epidemiology Training Programme of Papua New Guinea (FETPNG) team and Provincial counterparts set out to a remote part of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and conducted an outstanding outbreak investigation. The team was investigating an outbreak of febrile illness with reports of blood in urine & stool. Sadly, three children passed away from their illnesses. Two villages were visited and hundreds of households interviewed, cases were tested for dengue and malaria, blood was collected for further analysis and the community mobilized to reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The following series is from James’s diary from his time in PNG. It’s the raw stuff, and recounts his thoughts during this trip in a 3-part series.
- In our conversation, James mentions the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program. Visit CDC’s website to learn more about this program and to see if you are eligible to apply.
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