Ethics and Action: A Balancing Act for Public Health Students


Irving Suarez

1st Year MPH Health Behavior Health Education Candidate

I have a range of emotions about this experience. Engaging with my peers, community partners, and community members will be fun. I think accomplishing all of our deliverables will keep us busy. On the one hand, it feels like a chance to test out my “public health skills,” but on the other, a question of ethical practice presents itself. 

In this class, we have the opportunity to collaborate with the South Central Area Health Education Center in San Antonio, Texas. Our task is to conduct an assessment and awareness levels and health literacy regarding Asthma in the West and East parts of San Antonio, Texas. We will do this through focus groups and 1:1 interviews. Our findings will then be utilized to develop dissemination materials that are tailored to San Antonio communities (e.g., an informational social media post in Spanish and English). 

It's an exciting opportunity. Arguably a culmination of everything I have learned in this graduate program so far, making it a good test. But how ethical is it? Why are we the best suited to conduct this assessment or develop materials? Will our work be helpful or damaging? 

I’m not sure if I will get answers to these questions. But I suppose it’s a good thing ethics are consistently talked about in my courses, including this one. I think the hesitancy and concerns come from the possibility of messing up. Then again, it is a class, which means we’re here to learn, and that includes making mistakes.