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In Their Words: Medical students share experiences with Scholarly Concentrations

Emma Eckrote

Emma Eckrote, Rural Health SC

Scholarly Concentrations at Indiana University School of Medicine offer an optional experience that complements the core medical school curriculum and empowers students to delve into topics of interest, benefit from the medical school's statewide network of experts and resources, receive unique mentorship opportunities, develop skills and complete scholarly projects that are valuable for residency applications and professional development.

Learn more about the Public Health, Rural Health, Quality and Innovation in Health Care, and Biomedical Engineering and Applied Medical Technology Scholarly Concentrations from IU School of Medicine students across the state who share their experiences in these programs.


Rural Health

Emma Eckrote, Class of 2022

"The rural medicine education program and the scholarly concentration have strengthened my desire to serve those in my small community and have afforded me the skills to be able to do so with confidence and greater knowledge of the needs around me. It is preparing me to come home and care for those who took such good care of me."

Emma Eckrote facilitates a learning opportunity at Mollie Wheat Clinic in Terre HauteWhy did you choose the Rural Health scholarly concentration?

I grew up on a farm in north central Indiana. This scholarly concentration has allowed me to return home for research, connect and network with medical professionals in my community, and further educate me on the needs and challenges of rural medicine.

What scholarly project have you chosen to undertake, and why?

I am examining the motivations behind choosing midwifery services and community births (home and birthing center births, or out-of-hospital births). In many rural areas, women’s health and obstetric care is directed by midwives. However, much of the research behind the motivations for choosing midwifery come from urban populations. When I got a chance to shadow a midwife after my first year of medical school, I jumped on it. I became interested in learning more about midwifery, the motivations behind choosing community birth, the integration of midwives and obstetricians, and the risks and benefits that come with it. I am very excited for the chance to further explore midwifery in rural areas and why these women are choosing it over the now “traditional” obstetrics hospital-based model. 


Reese Miller, Class of 2022

Reese Miller"Working in rural medicine gives you the opportunity to think outside of the box and come up with care plans that can be tailored to widely different people. I feel the Rural Health scholarly concentration has taught me how to handle many of these situations while moving forward in my career."

Why did you choose the Rural Health scholarly concentration?

I chose the Rural Health program because it gives me an opportunity to learn more about how the health care system works in a small town. Working in rural medicine presents unique challenges. For example, you have to be able to recognize organophosphate poisoning (agricultural workers are at higher risk) and how to react to the situation without putting more people in harm’s way. You also have to be prepared to take care of someone who is unable to get to the nearest city with the appropriate level of care due to inability to travel. With this scholarly concentration, I was given the chance to learn more about rural medicine and how to handle many of these situations.

Describe the scholarly project you’ve chosen and the inspiration behind this project.

I am doing a project with two of my rural concentration classmates studying how COVID-19 has affected actions taken by people in rural communities. We are focusing on the rural-versus-urban differences in knowledge and actions, and how differences in funding affect those two things. Obviously, COVID-19 has affected everyone in the world in one form or another, so I wanted to understand the different actions each community took to protect themselves from the virus. I believe that differences in these actions can shed some light on public health outreach relating to rural ideologies.


Biomedical Engineering and Applied Medical Technology

Hayley Chan, Class of 2023

Hayley Chan"I definitely think the biomedical engineering scholarly concentration program has helped widen my views. Collaborating with local physicians helps give relatable experiences for my future career."

Why did you choose the Biomedical Engineering and Applied Medical Technology scholarly concentration?

I’ve had previous experiences in clinical and wet-lab research and wanted to explore this avenue, using my skills and experiences from my undergraduate computer science minor. Having the support from the scholarly concentration has been wonderful—both Dr. Brightman and Dr. Goergen have been very helpful in finding mentors, connecting us with other faculty, and making sure we have the resources and information we need.

How will your participation in this scholarly concentration contribute to your overall career aspirations in medicine?

Doing something in the engineering sphere is different and new to me. I am still unsure about what the balance of research and clinical work will look like in my future career, but I definitely think the biomedical engineering scholarly concentration program has helped widen my views.


Madeline Ku, Class of 2023

Madeline Ku"The Biomedical Engineering and Applied Medical Technology program helps me understand current research for the field of medicine I am interested in."

How do you expect your experience in this scholarly concentration to contribute to your career path in medicine?

I can see what my physician mentor’s experience is with doing research in clinical practice and determine what type of research I may want to do in my future practice. Additionally, I hope this experience will help me stand out during future residency interviews.


Quality and Innovation in Health Care

Christopher Blanco, Class of 2023

Christopher Blanco"Having the opportunity to work with doctors and other health care professionals who have taken up additional quality improvement roles within their hospital systems has provided me with a better understanding of how I can pursue quality innovation in health care as a medical professional."

Why did you choose the Quality and Innovation in Health Care scholarly concentration?

I was very interested in further exploring how, through quality improvement measures, we can work to better the institutions we will one day work for, with the hopes of improving patient health outcomes as well as the overall work environment of the facility.

What are you learning through work on your scholarly project?

An end goal of the study I am conducting is to discuss how adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technology into our current electronic health records can help augment physician practices in ways to ensure they are providing the most up-to-date, evidence-based medicine to best improve patient health outcomes within their community.

How do you expect your experience in this scholarly concentration to help guide your career path?

With internal medical departments developing quality improvement teams, I know I will be prepared to fill a leadership role with the experience and educational certification I gained through this program. I have always had professional aspirations of one day becoming a doctor, but now I have a clearer focus on what institutional role I want to play as a doctor in the improvement of my patients’ health outcomes.


Ellen Yos, Class of 2022

Ellen Yos works on her scholarly concentration project"I am really interested in doing research that directly impacts patients. Clinical research seems to have more of a human side to it."

What have you learned through working on your scholarly project?

We were looking at re-admission rates for congestive heart failure patients based on whether they followed up at a post-discharge clinic in Evansville. We thought the clinic was helping, and we were able to find out by how much. Our team presented at the American College of Physicians Indiana chapter meeting and won first place there! This gave us the the opportunity to present at the national conference, which was held virtually. It was a valuable learning experience!


Public Health

Rebekah RollRebekah Roll, Class of 2021

“Being in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration program has provided me with invaluable interdisciplinary education. From learning basic introduction to public health to the overview of healthcare systems in America, I know I will carry this knowledge forward with me to provide better care for and with my patients."

What have you learned through working on your scholarly project?

It was an opportunity to learn more about scholarship. As a person who had never been involved in academic writing, this concentration has provided me with opportunities to learn about this process so I am comfortable doing it in the future.

MD Student News

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IU School of Medicine  |  Oct 29, 2021

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.