One of our featured leaders from Alabama is Janice M. Smiley, MSN, RN, Director of the State Perinatal Program at the Alabama Department of Public Health. She took some time to talk about the Perinatal Program and to discuss some challenges and opportunities she faces in Alabama.
How long have you been in your current position?
I have been with the Alabama Department of Public Health for 16 years. However, I have been in my current position, the Director of the State Perinatal Program, since July 2007. The mission of the State Perinatal Program is to identify and recommend strategies that will effectively decrease infant mortality and morbidity.
What is your favorite thing/task/part of your work?
The favorite part of my job is educating and raising awareness of healthy lifestyle behaviors and their correlation to overall health and well-being. I enjoy talking with men and women men informing them that the choices they make today may play a role in their future and the future of their children, encouraging them to plan their lives and not let life just happen. I get excited when “the light goes on” they understand and began to consider some of their choices and make decisions to change their behaviors and/or to engage in better behaviors. Also, I particularly want to help them understand their family medical history and the potential of those conditions to impact their future health.
What is your biggest challenge?
Not enough time to devote to the many tasks that are important and need my attention.
Why are you involved in Every Woman Southeast?
I am involved because I believe that preconception and interconception health are the areas where we need to focus our attention if we are to improve the perinatal health of our nation and thus the infant mortality rate. One contributing factor to infant mortality and poor birth outcomes in Alabama is the health of the mother before and between pregnancies. The women of Region IV face many of the same problems and issues related to women’s health and wellness. Within Every Woman Southeast there are many experts, people with vast knowledge, programs, as well as projects that are going on within other states that we could learn from to improve the health of women. Every Woman Southeast provides an atmosphere for sharing and disseminating information about successful projects, lessons learned from programs, and proven strategies. Thus Every WomanSoutheast creates an environment to help each state, not reinvent the wheel, but identify and implement strategies to improve the health of women, infants, and families in the southeast.
If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?
Provide healthcare and education to men and women with chronic conditions who want to improve their lives and health. Provide coaches for families of low social economic status to help them improve their lives and the lives of their children.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you to Sarah and her team. It is truly a pleasure to work with and learn from all the members of Every Woman Southeast.