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Natalie VanBuskirk 

Natalie VanBuskirk

Administrative Assistant II
Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
and Health Promotion

14 Years of Service

Got any favorite quotes?

Always practice Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. - Zoroaster

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

Never stop learning, never stop growing and never stop leaning into your commitment to do great work.

Who inspires you?

My mother. She is a retired nurse and instilled in each one of her children the pride in working hard, being honest with ourselves about the great things within us, but also how to look at ourselves and our actions with honesty.  She still asks each of us (when we are struggling with something) to ask ourselves if we have done the very best that we can do. Our answer to that question will usually guide us to the next step we need to take.


How did you start working in public health?

I began my career here in 2005 as an assistant in the Tobacco Use Prevention Service. I have always had an interest in public health so I did some research, and as I learned more about the government's role in public health, it naturally led me to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.


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

The most rewarding part of my work is when I have a chance to help a caller get connected with the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and I hear the relief in their voice knowing they will soon have help in breaking free of the burden of tobacco use.


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

I work with different people throughout the day, and often have the chance to work with the public getting them connected to the Certified Healthy Oklahoma Program as well as the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline Program. I have been able to speak with callers regarding smoking complaints, and have been able to get them connected to the right person so they can learn more about tobacco laws.


What is the most difficult part of your job?

Not too very long ago, I received a call from a woman who was referred to our program because she needed help getting a mammogram. She had been told by her doctor that she may have breast cancer. She was afraid, confused and didn't know where or how to start. I felt her fear but was confident in knowledge that our patient navigator would be able to help her with the answers and guidance she needed to enroll in our Breast and Cervical Cancer program.


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

The most rewarding experiences I have had all tend to focus on the times I have been able to help someone from the public get connected to a service they need. Knowing that we are here for people and that our work whether it be through policy change or providing services, directly affects the health of the people of our state, not only for the current generation but for many generations to come, is extremely satisfying.

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