Confucius once said, “Do something you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” It is this sort of passion that drives Tiana Kieso who worked as a medical doctor in Iraq for almost 15 years before moving to Chicago with her family in 1993 to start a career in public health.
In the years after graduating from medical school in Iraq, Dr. Kieso joined Kumait Health Center in Omara, a rural area in southern Iraq. As the first female physician on staff, she partnered with a midwife in 1982 to open the center’s first delivery room.
“Women would not go to a hospital to deliver their babies, because the doctors were all men,” she said. “The center had all the delivery equipment in a special room, but they couldn't use it until I started.”
Kieso’s pioneering achievements didn’t come to an end when she moved to the U.S and stopped practicing medicine. After raising three children, she went on to earn a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health in 2004 and also gained certification as an asthma and nutrition educator, the latter from the UIC Neighborhoods Initiative Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion. "Pursing the Masters in Public Health degree complimented my medical degree so I would be able to utilize both experiences clinically and administratively to provide healthcare services to a broad and diverse audience," Kieso says.
As a public health professional, Kieso has worked as a health education coordinator, where she taught patients about their illnesses while they waited to see their doctors. This was a concept she introduced to the Near North Health Service Corporation, a health center that provides health care and social services to uninsured residents of the Near North side communities in Chicago. Today, Kieso serves as a healthcare management consultant. "Public health professionals are well rounded and incorporate the physical, mental and social aspects of health into their work. They integrate the surrounding environment and diverse community aspects into their role as a public health expert, including social, industrial, economical, political, and global."
There is no shortage of need in Chicago for Kieso’s intervention skills, and it is quality of life improvements that helps her measure her success with the medically indigent patients she serves. “Patients have seen decreases in their pain. At least now they learn how to deal with their lifestyle. They’re learning. The patients are connecting with us. That means they’re changing. When I think about what I’m doing for these patients, that gives me hope and self-confidence that maybe this will work,” she said.