Written by Brittany Calkins, BA candidate at Emory University and participant in the 2019 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track
Before I started this program, I was excited to learn more about public health through the seminars and through my research, and I was interested to learn how public health and medicine work together. So far, I have learned so much. For example, the seminars have not only allowed me to learn more about the various types of research in the field of public health, but also they have allowed me to learn more about public health issues in St. Louis. I have also enjoyed getting to know the people in the program. It is nice to meet people who have similar interests, and it is fascinating to see how those similar interests can manifest in different ways.
With respect to my research, I have had many exciting, new opportunities. First, I have been able to observe surgeries, shadow my mentor, Dr. Chet Hammill, associate professor in the Department of Surgery, in clinic, and talk with physicians and residents about their experiences in medicine. I have met many surgeons, physicians, and researchers throughout the past couple of weeks, so I have expanded who I can talk with about their decision to enter the field of medicine and research, their experiences in the field(s), and the path to their present work. This has been very valuable to reinforce that I am interested in pursuing medicine and public health.
Second, I have always known public health and medicine coincide, but now I see how interconnected the two fields really are. This research opportunity has shown me that I definitely do not have to choose between the two because I can easily incorporate both in whatever I decide to do in the future.
Third, my research and the people that I have met so far have shown me that it is alright that I do not know exactly what I want to do right now. I have learned that it is good to experience as much as possible, that it is good to experiment in many different areas, and that it is okay to change what I want to do because this will all help me find the right path.
In the second half of the program, I hope to continue to experience new things. I plan to take advantage of the seminars through the program, opportunities in my department, and the people in my lab to learn as much as possible. I also hope to continue building my relationship with my mentor so that our relationship will continue after this program. Finally, I plan to keep my research moving at a good pace so we have good data at the end of the summer.