Janette Dill is an associate professor in the Health Policy & Management Division in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, and the deputy director of the Consortium for Workforce Research in Public Health. Her research focuses on job quality and career mobility among the health care and public health workforce. Before speaking on a panel at a Zócalo event, presented in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation—“What Is a Good Job Now? In Health Care?”—she chatted in the green room about long-term care, Minnesota winters, and the toughest job she’s ever had.
What’s your favorite place to eat in the Twin Cities?
Tough question. Let me offer this: I recently had a really fun dinner with friends at a restaurant called Hai Hai.
How did you get into health policy?
The long story is that after I graduated from college, I worked as a social worker in a continuing care retirement community. Even though it was a very upscale facility, it had all of the challenges you see in long-term care. One thing I paid a lot of attention to were the staff challenges. So, when I went back to graduate school, I started studying the wage issues of health workers, especially in long-term care.
How do you deal with the cold?
We have found that winter in Minnesota is really fun, because Minnesotans just embrace it. They are out there doing their winter things, like cross-country skiing.
On a typical Sunday afternoon, where would be most likely to find you?
I’m a pretty active person. I do a lot of running, a lot of gardening, and I have three kids, so I’m also chasing them around.
Zócalo is turning 20. What is some advice you wish you’d received in your 20s?
Not to worry about things so much.
What’s the lowest wage you ever received?
It would have to be when I was waitressing; you get the [tipped] wage, and that’s like $2 an hour. And you’re expected to make up the rest of that in tips. That was in high school. Waiting tables was the hardest job I’ve ever had.
What was the last book you read?
I really enjoyed a book called We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman. It was about two friends; one was in hospice, and it was about her care, and what it means to care for another person.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
I’m always happiest outside. I was recently in Washington state, and I climbed a mountain on the Olympic peninsula. That was inspiring.