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Today we are talking with Lauran Larson about her career as a lead wellness coordinator.
Lauran and I first met our freshman year of college. We both lived on the same floor at the University of Oklahoma and have been so fortunate to stay connected from afar all these years. Lauran is a wonderful wife and mother to 2 kids. She is also an avid runner and an amazing advocate for health and wellness! Lauran was recently named 40 under 40 in public health for her work for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Check out her honoree page here. I am so excited that she is willing to share her job with all of you!
Now let's learn more about Lauran...
Name: Lauran Larson
Lead Wellness Coordinator
Years in Current Position: Less Than 1 Year
Where Can You Connect with Lauran? Connect on LinkedIn!
What does a day in the life of an lead wellness coordinator look like?
The best thing about this position is every single day is a little different. I receive and create many unique projects for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. A lot of my time is focused on our employee wellness programming. This includes scheduling and promoting activities and using tools such as SmartSheet and Outlook.
Despite having different focuses each day there is one area of my job that remains consistent, recurring meetings. These include our Physical Activity and Nutrition staff meeting, workgroup meetings, Healthy Living Program internal huddle meeting, and many more! Some of these meetings occur once a month and some are bi-monthly or quarterly. I am the facilitator for many of these meetings which involves a lot of planning and collaborating with various colleagues.
What role or roles did you have prior to your current position?
I have spent 8 years working in public service at this point in my career. My first 18 months I worked as a Social Services Specialist at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. During this time, I earned my Master's degree and 2 weeks before graduation began my first job in public health at Oklahoma City-County Health Department. I remained in that position for 6.5 years before taking on the role I have now.
While I have held a few different job titles over the years, all of these roles focused on grant programs administered by Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
My areas of focus were to work with local organizations to help them adopt nutrition, physical activity, or tobacco free policies. This involved a lot of networking, presenting, and staying up to date on the latest science and policies related to chronic disease prevention.
How did your experience in previous roles help you succeed in your current position?
In my current role, I spend about half of my time assisting grantees on the programs I worked on with Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. I serve on teams that provide expertise and guidance to current grantees. I also work on a team with other partners to help create products (documents, media, etc) to support grantee efforts.
In my past roles I had experience working with businesses on adopting wellness policies and programs. This experience undoubtedly helped prepare me to run OSDH's employee wellness program. However, what set me apart was likely my willingness to try new things. I am the type of person to never shy away from a challenge. Any time our funder put out a call for grantees to participate in something "extra." I was always stepping forward - willing, excited, and even nervous!
Is there any specialty training or area of expertise needed to succeed in your current role?
The most important area of expertise that I have is my experience working as a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) grantee. However, it is important to note that most people in roles like mine hold master's degrees. While the master's degree subjects vary, many have a Master's of Public Health. Having a master's degree helps you know where to find current evidence based practices and builds a base of knowledge that is easy to reference. For example, knowing the basic guiding principles off of the top of my head for obesity prevention efforts makes me successful in my role. I know I do not know it all, but I am always willing to find answers and I know where to go to find them.
How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?
I could see my job evolving alongside typical organizational changes or funding stream changes. I have worked in public service long enough to know that change is inevitable. You must be prepared to face changes and learn new roles and do so with a positive attitude. It helps that I have one fundamental goal - help people live healthier, happier lives. I know that prevention work is my passion and I am flexible and willing to learn new projects or programs to continue this work.
What parts of your job do you find the most challenging?
My job is fast paced - much more so than my previous role. I was used to being able to check things off my list rather quickly. Now I can have many days filled with 5 or 6 meetings. Stress begins to creep in when each of those meetings results in actionable steps after they conclude. I am actively learning techniques to keep a very good to-do list. The perfectionist in me is learning to breathe and take my time. I know I will be able to get to the tasks at hand, just not as quickly as I would like to. It is an adjustment for sure!
Which parts of your job do you find the most rewarding?
Helping others and solving problems are the most rewarding parts of my job. I love being at the table providing valuable insight into decisions that must be made. My previous experience gave me a boots on the ground understanding of what it is like to do this work. That unique insight helps create guidance and products for current grantees that make them more successful.
I also find it very rewarding when a big project is finished. Looking back on how much collaborative work went into it and having peace knowing it is done is a great feeling. I am still learning how to balance many projects at once. There is never a time that all projects will be finished, but I celebrate each finished project as an accomplishment.
Where do you see yourself professionally in 5-10 years?
My current role was actually my most recent 5 year plan. I found in my previous role that my
favorite aspects of the job included helping other grantees and developing my own creative approaches to solve problems. I knew that once I had plenty of experience, I would want to step into a leadership role and help others.
I think it is acceptable to not immediately create a new 5 year plan once you achieve one. I am giving myself time to learn my new role before making any new long term goals. I know that there is a learning curve with any new position and while many parts of my position are coming more naturally, I know I am not fully there yet. I do not know what my next step in my career will look like, but I know I am right where I want to be.
If you are interested in learning more about Lauran and her experience, please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn. There is a button with a direct link at the top of the blog!
If you would like to be featured on the Talent Spotlight Series, please contact me here!
I would love to share your career journey!