Duke-UNC TTS Participant Spotlight: Brandon Omernik
"There are so many different fields in tobacco prevention work. Find the population that you are most interested in helping and go from there.”
After taking the Duke-UNC Comprehensive Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training, Brandon Omernik was able to follow his own advice, transitioning to a full time position as a tobacco treatment specialist (TTS) with the Fred Hutch Cancer Center, in Seattle, Washington.
Brandon shared with us that the Duke-UNC TTS training gave him the skills and confidence to apply for the job. He first heard about Duke-UNC TTS during the ToPCon commercial tobacco prevention conference, where he met Duke-UNC TTS Program Co-Director Sally Herndon and Program Coordinator Jennifer Greyber.
“Having the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your program gave me the encouragement I needed to pursue a career in this field, and the credentials of your program certainly helped with my application process.”
Receiving a firm foundation in pharmacotherapy and behavioral interventions during the training helped Brandon feel prepared to step into his new role. “The presentation on medication therapies and using innovative approaches to tobacco treatment rather than just traditional, ‘Here’s your nicotine gum or Chantix,’ was so helpful.”
“I'm looking forward to attending future courses, and hopefully I will one day be able to give back in the education process with what I will learn in my new role as a TTS working with a vulnerable population.”
Brandon first became interested in doing tobacco prevention work at the University of Wisconsin while working on a health promotion wellness program, a position that entailed creating presentations for high school students on tobacco prevention.
He has always had a passion for working with youth. His first education job was working with middle school kids as a behavior interventionist.
In addition to finishing up a master’s in Health and Wellness Management, Brandon recently earned his National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice (NCTTP). The Duke-UNC TTS training allowed him to meet the education requirements necessary to apply for and earn the certification.
Brandon is also now a steering committee member of the Washington Breathes Coalition, a new statewide tobacco coalition that launches this fall. "I’m so grateful for the training and experience that your program gave me. It’s taken me on new journeys that I never expected."
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About the Author Jennifer Greyber is the program coordinator for the Duke-UNC Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training Program.