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Linda Howard 

Linda Howard

Administrative Assistant,
Screening & Special Services

12 years of service

Got any favorite quotes?

“Every phase of your life and career will require a different you.” – Mel Robbins

Who inspires you?

There isn’t one specific person. I tend to be motivated by people – I am encouraged by someone almost every day, whether it’s the way they are dealing with difficult situations or their ability to laugh in the middle of chaos or the way they showcase their happiness. Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere.

What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?

In 2016, I was asked to assist in the quarantine of a homeless man who tested positive for tuberculosis. There were many people involved in this situation – from county health department nurses, staff in the Acute Disease Service, staff in Procurement as well as deputy commissioners and county administrators. Each person had a role from providing the place where he would stay, transportation to get him there, purchasing food and beverages for him while he was being quarantined, and getting him tested to check his status before he could be released. It was very rewarding to see how everyone from different areas of the agency came together to assist and protect during this public health emergency. It was a great example of team work.

How did you start working in public health?

I began my career with OSDH in 2007. I wasn’t specifically looking for a job in public health, but after interviewing, I had a really good feeling about the position and felt excited about doing something new and different. It has been an interesting journey and with each area I’ve worked in, I’ve learned so much about public health and the role we have in serving the citizens of our state.

Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?

I have worked in a few different areas in OSDH all in an administrative support role – Maternal & Child Health Service providing support to health educators and other staff; Family Health Services Administration providing support to the deputy commissioner and programs under Family Health Services; The Office of the State Epidemiologist providing support to the state epidemiologist; and currently in Screening & Special Services, where I provide support to four different program areas. 

In your role, how do you educate people about public health?

My role isn’t necessarily working directly with the public and educating about public health. Instead, I support the programs that do. For instance, I support the Oklahoma Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program by ordering specialty supplies for home investigations. I assist with budgets and grants, which support the Newborn Hearing Screening Program to ensure all children receive a hearing screening at birth. In addition, I assist with budgets and purchase orders for the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry to ensure multivitamins can be purchased and distributed to county health departments in an effort to reduce birth defects. I also help with contracts and purchase orders for the Newborn Screening Program so they can identify newborns with rare hidden disorders and save the lives of babies.

What is the most difficult part of your job? 

I work with and support four very specialized programs and many times, there can be a steep learning curve, not just for me but for medical providers and families across our state. Because of this, I am constantly learning new terminology and information related to that program and acquiring new skills in order to best meet the needs of each program. It can be very challenging, but very rewarding.

If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?

Go forward and do it. It is very rewarding and you never know whose life you will impact. There are so many different opportunities that exist in public health – many that we might not even think of. Talk to people who work in public health and ask them questions about their jobs, what they love and what they may see as a challenge.

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