UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 2015, Ariella Camera visited an Ebola treatment unit while employed at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). While there she met a health worker who contracted and survived Ebola. Yet that same worker continues to dedicate his life to delivering high-quality health care to anyone.
This dedication is why Camera, who earned her degree from the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, believes health workers are the backbone of the health system. Those same workers drive her passion.
“My daily motivation is the incredible health workers I have met all over the world who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others even in the most challenging of circumstances,” Camera said.
Camera started her career in public service and health care at Rockland County’s Department of Health and Hudson River Healthcare, both in New York. Now, as a public health adviser for Human Resources for Health in the Global Health Bureau at USAID, Camera works to support health systems programming to improve health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.
Specifically, she looks at finding sustainable solutions to workforce health-related challenges.
“A more resilient and responsive health system results in a healthier population,” Camera said. “Health workers are at the frontline of disease detection and control. As the world becomes increasingly connected and diseases easily cross borders, we must ensure that health workers are able to address evolving population health needs and emerging epidemics in their countries and regions, while continuing to deliver essential healthcare services.”
Prior to her current role, Camera was a presidential management fellow at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where she worked on implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She also served as an AmeriCorps Community HealthCorps member with Hudson River Healthcare focusing on community health and outreach.
Camera credits the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State for providing her with a comprehensive understanding that an interdisciplinary approach to health care is important to ensuring sustainability. She also credits her volunteer experiences at Penn State as instrumental to her career choices today.
“Penn State continues to remind me of the importance of community and public service,” she said.
As a member of Global Medical Brigades, Camera volunteered in rural communities in Honduras to help provide access to care and public health services. The experience influenced her commitment to working in developing countries and shaped the trajectory of her career towards international development.
She also volunteered at Penn State’s University Health Services in Health Promotion and Wellness, where she worked to increase awareness and knowledge of health issues, such as sexual health, nutrition and fitness, wellness, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and body image and eating disorders. She also provided health education programs to students.
Camera said working with students and getting hands-on health care experience helped prepare her for her career.
“Being able to have these opportunities to learn about the U.S. health care system, and other health care systems abroad, has been truly valuable to understanding how we can strengthen these systems to better serve their communities,” she said.