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Letters to the Editor.

Dear Editor:

I wanted to comment on the fine article in the May 2000 issue, "Planned Happenstance," by career consultant Sandra Hagevik. She lists five attitudes essential to recognizing, creating, and using chance as opportunity Four of the five are also characteristics I looked for when interviewing people for sanitarian positions: curiosity, persistence, flexibility, and optimism. In addition, I also looked for intelligence, people skills, and a sense of humor. Assuming that others seek the same characteristics in new hires, then sanitarians (or environmental health professionals--or whatever title is used) should have an inside track on career planning!

In response to Tunde M. Akinmoladun's letter to the editor, in the same issue: I think one reason for low pay, employers' disregard for the environmental health degree, and a general lack of interest in continuing education is that the history of the profession is not rooted in college-level education. With the exception of the health officer (usually a medical doctor), the "health inspector" was commonly without postsecondary education. He was regarded in the same light as the local government's code inspection force, both in pay and qualifications. Obviously, exceptions existed then, as they do now.

On a hopeful note, many states do require environmental health practitioners to have some kind of professional credential with minimum degree requirements. Some jurisdictions link voluntary credentialing to advancement. Industry is seeking employees with degrees related to food science, industrial hygiene, water quality protection, and other environmental activities subject to regulation.

My experience as a sanitarian spans over 20 years, and I am excited and encouraged by the changes I have seen in that time. Ours is an evolving profession and becoming more respected as our colleagues engage with more critical issues and continue to observe high standards of performance. I would add that the timely and useful information provided by this Journal has been and is an asset to the environmental health professional.

Lastly, it is unfortunately difficult to measure success when it comes to prevention. What we do can't be counted like immunizations or measured like a baby's growth. It takes a special combination of passion and all those qualities mentioned in the first paragraph to do our job!


Judy M. Willingham, R.S.

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

Dear Editor:

Public speaking always used to be difficult for me. Richard Payne's Guest Commentary, "Presenting with Confidence," which appeared in the May issue of the Journal, will be very valuable for those who wish to be successful and who know that communication, particularly public speaking, is an essential element of success.

For practical application and to learn more about needed verbal presentation skills, I strongly urge up-and-comers to join a local Toastmasters Club. After joining the club and spending the first year completing a basic training program, you will have the skills and confidence you need to face any audience.

I spent seven years in our local club, assisted in the formation of a county employee club, encouraged our department employees to attend, and gave them an extra half hour at lunch to attend the weekly meeting. I never regretted authorizing this time and neither did they. Think about it!


Richard Roberts, M.PH., D.A.A.S.

Environmental Management Consultant

Grover Beach, California
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Jul 1, 2000
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