Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kiersten Frobom, MPA, MPH

During her internship in Uganda, Kiersten Frobom visited the Great Rift Valley. During her internship in Uganda, Kiersten Frobom visited the Great Rift Valley.

Hometown
San Diego, California

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in U.S. History, Certificate in Women’s Studies, UW-Madison

Research interests
Systems and determinants of health, gender

Expected graduation date
May 2019

Why an MPA/MPH?
Studying history as an undergrad, I was interested in the social determinants of health and the ways that policy has made people more or less vulnerable.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
The La Follette School has helped me explore options. I learned about nonprofit work during my summer internship with Health Access Connect and during the La Follette in D.C. career development trip, I saw what private sector and consulting work might be like. Health Access Connect: 

Internship
I began a monitoring and evaluation internship with the Uganda-based non-governmental organization Health Access Connect (HAC) in January 2017, working from Madison through June. In July, I joined HAC in Kampala, Uganda, for a two-month field placement.

Executive Director (and UW-Madison alumnus) Kevin Gibbons oversaw my role, with support from Programme Director Carolyne Ariokot, field staff, temporary research staff, and organizational partners such as KAFOPHAN. HAC’s mission is to “link Ugandans living in remote areas with healthcare resources” (Healthaccessconnect.org, 2017).

My main projects for HAC included a literature review, to gain background knowledge on migration, health, and service utilization in Uganda and similarly developed regions. I also consulted on the development and implementation of a population health survey, focusing on demographics, health status, and health-seeking behaviors, to be used for internal program evaluation and quality improvement.

Finally, I conducted policy and practice research in two primary areas, medical supply stock-outs and family planning services, with findings intended for HAC program improvement. As part of this research, Kevin Gibbons and I conducted informal informational interviews with health officials to compare their descriptions of the problem of stock-outs with recent literature.

Project assistantship
I am a project assistant on the What Works for Health team with the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps at UW-Madison's Population Health Institute. I’m lucky to be there—the work environment is supportive, and the staff are experts in public health and policy.

What courses have you taken in which you’ve done work for real clients?
In PHS 780, Public Health Principles & Practice, I did a group research project on the effects of opioid use for the Wisconsin Public Health Council. For the project, we attended two Council meetings and were able to observe health entities in Wisconsin working together.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Definitely look for a project assistantship (PAship), research assistantship, or teaching assistantship for even part of your time at UW. I’ve been able to apply my classwork to my PAship work, and vice-versa—plus it’s another network of people to learn from.

Anything else?
I am in the Master of Public Affairs and Master of Public Health (MPA/MPH) dual-degree program, but I am open to working domestically or abroad. I’m in the student organization European Horizons, studying policy in Europe, and am also doing the Global Health Certificate. Global health focuses on how determinants of health interact, often in spite of borders—and UW has many graduates in the field. I’m excited to join them!