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MCH Leaders in the Southeast: Florida

For April we are featuring the Sunshine State, Florida. One of our featured leaders is Annette Phelps, ARNP, MSN, Division Director for Family Health Services at Florida Department of Health. Annette was happy to answer a few questions about her work and why she is involved with Every Woman Southeast.

How long have you been in your current position?

I have served as Director of the Division of Family Health Services for the past 10 years. My experience in the central office related to family and community health spans over 20 years and prior to that I worked in a county health department and served as an ARNP there. I also worked as an ARNP in a VA Ambulatory Care Clinic and a College Student Health Service and as an SICU nurse.

What is your favorite thing/task/part of your work?

Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to better serve families. Whether it is prioritizing scarce resources, assessing the needs of our families, creating a new program or adapting or introducing a new program–it is all about the families we serve.

What is your biggest challenge?

Change is the biggest challenge. We want to be evidence based in our approaches but are hesitant to give up old habits and what we “think” in our heart works and also wonder what about the populations that the approaches were not tested on, or what about the strategies that have not yet been tested at the evidence level. Reconciling all of the needs with the best solutions is hard and planning and implementing new approaches or changed approaches takes time and diligence.

Why are you involved in/interested in Every Woman Southeast?

I learn so much from colleagues across the region. It helps with implementing changes to have knowledge of others in regard to challenges and ways around hurdles. The bright ideas and energy are infectious too.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it? (besides move to the mountains or beach and retire)

It depends on what the source and purpose are. If it is for personal use it would go a long way toward retirement and some special interests for caring for moms and babies. If I had a million program dollars, I would invest in some evaluation activities to try and build the evidence base on some of our state programs.

To find out more about what is happening in Florida, visit

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