Careen Caputo, MPH, OD
USC MPH Online Student, Class of 2017
Concentration: Global Health
I chose to pursue a master’s degree in public health to seek a better understanding of how to help others achieve a healthier life…including having access to health care no matter where they live. My favorite part of the MPH program was being challenged by my peers and instructors to think about health and well-being from a different perspective than my own. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite classes was Introduction to Global Health, which broadened my awareness of the multitude factors that contribute to an individual’s ability to live to their full potential. As an optometrist for many years, my aspiration is to reduce the burden of vision loss through increasing awareness and access to timely, affordable, acceptable and quality eye care to vulnerable populations both locally and globally. I was privileged to be an intern at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, CA during my MPH practicum. Here I combined my optometric background to assess risk perceptions to diabetes complications in a low-income Latino population of Orange County. My primary focus was to evaluate their understanding of the ocular complication, diabetic retinopathy (DR), and their perception of the risk of developing this sight-threatening condition. The results of surveys at two community clinics revealed that personal disease risk for DR was lacking in 50% of participants. As a result, I developed an educational pamphlet to raise awareness to their risk of developing DR that will be used for future diabetes education seminars and in the participating clinics. Furthermore, I volunteer my professional services at one of the clinics to help increase access to eye care in the underserved population of Orange County.