Shayla Lawrence

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Shayla Lawrence, Public Health Coordinator for Maternal Tobacco Prevention at Shelby County Health Department

Who I am…

My name is Shayla Lawrence. I am the public health coordinator for maternal tobacco prevention and I work at the Shelby County Health Department.

I do a lot of work trying to prevent tobacco use among pregnant women, assist with smoking cessation for pregnant women who are already smoking and also smoking cessation assistance and tobacco education in the community for everyone.

 What led me here…

I guess what really led me to my work here at the Health Department was my academic background in anthropology. I became interested in the cultural ideas about health and that got me interested in public health.

 How faith plays a role in my work…

I know that for people receiving services, it could play a role just in kinda how they approach dealing with healthcare professionals and things like that. So I try to remain culturally competent, you know, in my dealings with, with people and try to consider their cultural background, including their faith, so that they can be better served.

I define healthcare as…

I’d say, overall, definitely looking at health from a holistic perspective and not just thinking about, you know, things just like disease prevention, but also making sure that, that their environment is a healthy one.

 One of Memphis’ greatest healthcare challenges is…

I think some of the biggest issues and challenges here would definitely be poverty and kind of that lack of cultural understanding and awareness among providers.

 But what Memphis healthcare is doing right is…

It definitely would vary from provider to provider, but I think that some of the things that Memphis is doing right is considering other social determinants of health and trying to make improvements, you know, trying to increase access and making sure that, you know, there’re providers that provide low-cost healthcare services in walking distance of a lot people.

 The biggest challenge in my healthcare work is…

I think some of the biggest challenges for me are actually good ones in that we don’t have a lot pregnant women here who smoke.

Everyone can benefit from, you know, learning about chronic disease prevention, but only pregnant women who smoke need interventions that are aimed at pregnant women to help them quit smoking. So, you know, finding those people who really need those cessation services has been a really big challenge.

The greatest reward in my healthcare work is…

For me, I guess the biggest rewards are seeing people realize, you know, that there are steps that they can take and ways that they can try to improve their own health. That’s definitely a reward.

Learn more about Shelby County Health Department services.

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