Puzzles and Problems

I have finally grokked a fundamental difference between me and my co-workers.  I look at outbreaks as puzzles to work out and problems to solve, not as extra burden to complain about.  There is a small group of salmonella cases which need to be re-interviewed regarding some specific risk factors, using an open-ended questionnaire.  This is time consuming and more of an art form than a science. There aren't hard and fast rules about how to do it because that would limit the open-endedness about it. The idea is that you help stimulate the interviewee's memory and see what they bring forth.

To me it's going to be fun to help figure out what might be in common between our cases and the cases in other areas with the same salmonella isolate.  Apparently it's considered a burden by others.  Yes, the guidance is nebulous. Yes, it will take time.  Yes, there are other cases of illness to investigate like always.  No, that's not a problem.  If you already know how an open-ended questionnaire works and how a disease outbreak investigation works, why say you don't understand why they can't give more guidance and grumble about how "they" are making more work?  How the heck else do you expect to figure out what the cases have in common and discover the underlying problem? Do you really think it's in the best interest of the public to just leave a multi-state cluster of illnesses alone and hope the problem goes away? I don't think so. What do you think the purpose of epidemiology in public health is if it's not to figure out risk factors and outbreak origins?  This is my JOB. This is what I went to grad school for years to do.  It's not a burden.  It's FUN.  

(And I'm not going to feed the victim mentality regarding all the "dumb" things the central office asks us to do.  If that makes me not a team player, I'll just have to live with that. They aren't asking for anything unreasonable. Moreover, they know I'm bored so I'm not at all surprised this ended up on my desk.  Like I said, it'll be fun.)


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