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Students in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration share their experiences with the program, examining what they’ve learned and how the program has shaped their medical school journey.

In Their Words: Public Health Scholarly Concentrations students share their experiences

Scholarly Concentration with outline of the state of Indiana

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 personal interest, learn through topic-specific courses, complete a scholarly project, and produce a manuscript submitted for publication along with a poster for presentation at IU School of Medicine Education Day. Students in the Scholarly Concentrations Program benefit from the school’s statewide network of experts and resources, receive unique mentorship opportunities, develop skills, and complete scholarly work, all elements of their medical education that are valuable for residency applications and professional development.

Students in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration share their experiences with the program, examining what they’ve learned and how the program has shaped their medical school journey.


Public Health

Melanie Scheive, Class of 2023

Headshot of student Melanie Scheive

Why did you choose the Public Health Scholarly Concentration?

Public Health stood out as a Scholarly Concentration because of my concurrent interest in pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) to further my knowledge of the realm of public health. The Scholarly Concentration really served as a stepping stone for these interests of mine, particularly epidemiology, and how these different principles apply to the field I'm interested in pursuing in medicine, which is Ophthalmology.

What’s been your favorite part of your Scholarly Concentrations Program experience so far?

Out of the different experiences I've had, the most memorable was putting together my project — which has now been published — about follow-up from our student-run free eye clinic to our local ophthalmology clinic. Our student-run free eye clinic has been around at this point for almost 10 years, so we compiled data to really look at how follow-up was occurring. And this has revealed for us the future directions of our clinic, involving the creation of a patient navigator program to make sure patients who are screened at our clinic who are in need of follow-up care are able to get the care that they need from our local county hospital; or if they have other extenuating circumstances, get care at whichever site works best for them.

How has participating in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration shaped your medical school journey?

It has served as a starting point for my journey within public health. It's been great that there's overlap with the MPH program as far as how credits count; it's helped me complete some of the foundational classes for the MPH that I’m pursuing in epidemiology to make this pathway more smooth.

What scholarly project have you chosen to undertake and why?

I already was involved with the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic – specifically the Eye Clinic. Because of my involvement with the Eye Clinic, it made sense to merge the public health aspect of the vision screening program with what I was already pursuing for the Scholarly Concentration. Our clinic’s been around for so long, but we haven't really evaluated what the outcomes look like for follow-up from our Student Outreach Clinic Eye Clinic to our county ophthalmology clinic for anyone who requires follow-up care. So it was only natural to kind of merge these interests and involvement that I had to the common purpose of understanding follow-up; and from there, devise a program — specifically the patient navigator program that I helped found — to alleviate the gaps in follow-up.

Yannie Heng, Class of 2023

Why did you choose the Public Health Scholarly Concentration?Headshot of Student Yannie Heng

I've always been really interested in not just the biological basis behind illness, but the social reasons behind why people get sick. My health care goal eventually is to work on increasing health equity, especially amongst racial minorities, and to reduce barriers to care. So I thought that the Public Health Scholarly Concentration would be the most practical way to go about that. I have very little public health training, and it was just something that I've always been interested in. I figured it would be good to just learn more about public health.

What’s been your favorite part of your Scholarly Concentrations Program experience so far?

My Public Health Scholarly Concentration project was called, “I bring her up with love: Perspectives of caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities in Western Kenya.” That project was my first really big research project and the first time that I had ever worked on a manuscript by myself. For this project, I had to analyze interviews and stories and come up with themes from the diverse lives of all these caregivers. As a psychology minor who graduated from a liberal arts college, I have always been more interested in qualitative studies and being able to draw conclusions from the patterns and lives of so many unique individuals. This project allowed me to combine so many things I was interested in: children, neurodevelopment, barriers to healthcare, stigma, and even things like religious organizations and love, to come up with clear stories and hopefully eventual solutions to help this incredibly important population. I’m currently in Kenya rotating on the pediatric wards in order to get a better understanding of how healthcare is practiced in low-income countries and to learn about some of the struggles that this population faces. Last week, I was able to travel to a town center in rural Kenya with Megan McHenry, MD, and her team to hear them present to some of the populations that we've been targeting. After three years of work, it’s been really amazing to finally meet my collaborators in person and really see this project come to life.

How has participating in the Public Health Scholarly Concentration shaped your medical school journey?

I think it's helped me view patients much more holistically. I think it's really easy, especially when you have a huge patient load, to just say “well, you have this disease, we're going to treat it and move on.” I think, ultimately, I just have more grace for patients when they have non-compliance issues. It’s helped me become more analytical, not just looking at the biological basis behind the disease; there are so many other things to look out for. It's also given me a greater appreciation for primary care. I thought I was going to work at the hospital all the time, but I’ve seen that if you have a good public health system, you can have all these ways to prevent illness. Having a good public health system is so crucial to care and thinking more broadly about why patients are sick instead of just “oh, they have this disease.”

What scholarly project have you chosen to undertake and why?

I was looking for someone interested in pediatric global health. Obviously, there are myriad routes to go about this and so much need for improvement in any subspecialty. I happened to be interested in viewing things from a sociological and structural angle. Dr. McHenry has done so much work in the field of pediatric neurodevelopment here in Kenya. I was more interested in that; I wanted to work with people and learn about why people can receive health care and how we can help them.

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.
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