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[Photo]: Puja Mani Thushari Uthpala Amarasinghe

Puja Mani Thushari Uthpala Amarasinghe

Campus Address: CA127G
Phone: 317-278-6354
Email: puutamar@iupui.edu
[Icon]: CV Curriculum Vitae


Appointments

Education

Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Community Medicine (University of Colombo), A medical graduate (MBBS) specialized in public health with post graduate qualifications of Master of Science in Community Medicine-Public Health(University of Colombo)

Bio

Arising from warm and beautiful island of Sri Lanka, I would love to work with youth and adolescents on changing their behaviours towards healthy living choices.Having completed my college education in Colombo, I was selected to read for my general degree in medicine and surgery, for five years and I obtained my Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Surgery (MBBS) degree with a Second Upper Class and a Distinction in Bio chemistry. Subsequent to an internship of one year, I obtained full registration to practice as a doctor in Sri Lanka. I was appointed as a Medical officer in a major teaching hospital; Sri Jayewardenepura General H. Colombo, where I practiced curative patient care. My first public health appointment; Medical Officer of Health, in charge of a predominantly suburban area with a multi-cultural population around 100,000 was with an assigned responsibility of assisting the client community in achieving set public well-being objectives, by way of executing public health programs in line with the national policies formulated to reach International Health Development Goals. Even during the infancy of my public health practice I realized the importance of health communication for changing the behavior of the community for better life styles. After qualifying through a highly competitive screening procedure for post graduate studies, I was called back after three years (2004) to the Health Education Bureau (HEB) of the Ministry of Health to follow my postgraduate studies in Community Medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) Colombo and completed my MSc and MD. I could successfully switch over to the field of public health communication which makes the foundation of public well being. I was appointed as Head of the Communication Department of the Health Education Bureau (National Health Sector of Sri Lanka), a post which solely involves communicating with the masses, developing and simulating various methods of communication in order to do so, to assess and apply their impact in conveying health messages on the general populace, and the supervision of all the above. Further, while serving the country as a doctor in the government health sector, I have been working during the natural and man-made disasters during the past 15 years. I value the grave importance of communication in linking the diverse communities and sending them messages effectively. While following the course of MD, I conducted research to assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the Life Skill Development Program for adolescent school children in Sri Lanka, funded by the World Health Organization. I have developed a scoring system and the first validated scale to measure life skills of adolescents, after 5 year strenuous procedures of research. This enabled me to design training programs, develop training tools, assessment criteria and guidelines to overcome prevailing shortcomings. Since I work as faculty, research activities conducted could easily be applied with appropriate modifications. Combined with my Degree in Medicine, a PhD in the Health Communication field will enable me to act as a link between medical professionals and communication professionals, and in turn will qualify me to provide a synergistic approach to health issues, thereby, enhancing the overall effect of the action. I could also spread the message among my fellow medical professionals. In my experience being an effective communicator using written and electronic media and a trainer conducting training sessions and workshops, and an organizer of national and international level seminars, I understand how important are the communication skills developed at professional level to become a successful medical professional. I am an external lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine. Therefore, I am often invited to lecture at the graduate and postgraduate levels at many Sri Lankan colleges and universities, and with my experience as a facilitator and resourceful lecturer I will be able to educate my students with information that I have gathered to widen their scope, and enlighten my colleagues who mentor. I am personally interested to develop my communication knowledge and skills up to a professional level, and know medical professionals involved in the improvement of public well-being need developed communication skills, an idea which needs to be promoted and marketed globally. Medical specialization with communication expertise is a rare combination, thus it is an area which needs international attention and involvement for its development. Offering more placements for communication professionals in colleges of medicine and in biological disciplines, and encouraging them to follow courses of study in communication will be a bridge building exercise between two professions. I would like to act as a bridging professional in the future, promoting and popularizing the study of health communication between communication professionals and medical specialists, ultimately empowering communities, achieving well being and healthy life styles cost effectively in a greater degree.

Academic Interests

Public Health, Behaviour Change Communication, Adolescent Health, Research on Life Skills and Healthy Life Styles, Global Health Issues

Publications

Research on The Assessment of Life Skills (including communication skills) among the 13-15 year old School going Adolescents in a District of Sri Lanka and an Interventional Study to Assess the Effectiveness of a Life Skills Promotion Package

Service

Served 10 years as a public health physician in different community settings

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