NDSU student serves community through COVID-19 contact tracing

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Gretchen Dobervich is highly motivated and accomplished. She works as the public health policy project manager at North Dakota State University’s American Indian Public Health Resource Center and is passionate about serving her community. 

She’s always pursuing knowledge and looking for ways to help others. That’s why she currently enrolled in the Master of Public Health program at NDSU. She plans to graduate in 2022.

More importantly, though, Dobervich wants to help people live their best lives through social justice and societal equity. So, she volunteered through NDSU’s College of Health Professions to be a COVID-19 contact tracer with the North Dakota state health department.

“Having contact tracers who are familiar with American Indian culture, social protocols and the services in the Tribal Nations in North Dakota felt important to us at the American Indian Public Health Resource Center, so we all got trained,” Dobervich said.

The most rewarding part of contact tracing for Dobervich is answering questions and offering support to fellow North Dakotans who are in isolation or who have been exposed to the virus and are in quarantine.

The volunteer work has provided Dobervich a real-time experience of the public health core essentials working together to save lives during a pandemic.

When the North Dakota Department of Health put out a call for help, NDSU was able to provide many qualified individuals as contact tracers. The opportunity for students to help comes from the trusted relationship between College of Health Professions faculty and the state health department. 

“The faculty at NDSU all come to the program with not only great academic knowledge, but rich, lived experience working in public health,” Dobervich said. “This really enhances the learning experiences and prepares you for your future.”

Dobervich said her Master of Public Health program experience has provided many new skills she can apply to her career at the American Indian Public Health Resource Center.

One of the many things learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is there is a great need for public health professionals. 

If you’re interested in a rewarding health professions career, visit https://www.ndsu.edu/healthprofessions/.