CLEMSON, South Carolina – “Follow your dream. Know what you want to do, and pursue it” were the simple words of advice from dentist Ronnie D. Lee for Clemson students at the third annual “Tigers on Call” event on Sept. 22.

Healthcare providers from a range of professions assembled for a panel discussion.
Image Credit: Pete Martin / Clemson University

A Clemson alumnus of 1976, Lee has been practicing dentistry in Aiken, South Carolina, for nearly 30 years. He joined a cast of approximately 50 healthcare providers – from fields such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and physical therapy – in giving words of wisdom to current Clemson students who are interested in pursuing many of the same specialties.

Beginning with a panel discussion, the providers – many of whom are also Clemson alumni – answered questions regarding everything from: “How important are entrance exams for professional school?” to “How often do you collaborate with other specialties in the healthcare system?”

Jessica Owens, director of health professions advising, had been planning the networking event since early spring.

“Students from past ‘Tigers on Call’ events have shared with us that the value is in the connections that they make. After one afternoon, they leave with a better understanding of the field that they hope to eventually join,” Owens said.

The field of medicine alone has more than 100 different specialties for doctors. Having such a large number of options can be daunting for students as they try to home in on their career paths.

“Here, students have the opportunity to gain exposure to the variety of sub-specialties that exist,” Owens said. “We actually have current medical students at this event who were student attendees at the first ‘Tigers on Call’ in 2015, which is a really cool perspective for today’s attendees to get.”

After the panel discussion were two round-table sessions, which student attendees had to register for in advance in order to sit with a provider of their choice. In these informal conversations, students could continue their Q&A on a more personal level.

group of providers stands together with sign

Many of the healthcare providers are also Clemson alumni.
Image Credit: Pete Martin / Clemson University

Hazel Grace Hudson, a senior double-majoring in food science/human nutrition and anthropology, said the round table session was her favorite part of “Tigers on Call.”

“When you’re shadowing, you normally only ask questions about medicine, about what’s going on in front of you, but this offers an opportunity to talk to physicians, to network, and to ask questions about life, in general,” Hudson said. “It can help me learn, so hopefully I don’t have as many failures in the future, because I will have learned from theirs.”

A junior in biological sciences, Erin Stickler served as the assistant student director for the event, which she coordinated with student director Maddie Anderson.

“I did a lot of learning, by watching Maddie and Jessica, and it was a really great experience to prepare me for my role as the student director next year. I watched all the hard work that they put into the event and helped them in any way that I could, by organizing round tables and coordinating students with providers,” Stickler said.

Two conference-style seminars were included in this year’s event, one that discussed the face of the healthcare system over time, and another that gave tips for interviewing for professional schools.

The afternoon concluded with a networking session, where students and health providers had the opportunity to exchange information and continue their correspondence after the event.

For Lisa Carroll, a Clemson alumna, being a provider for “Tigers on Call” gave her a chance to reach out to students in a way that she didn’t have when she was a Clemson student.

“I graduated from Clemson in 2004, and at that time, nothing like this event was here,” Carroll said. “When I was in these students’ shoes, I had no idea what to do. I just kept going through the motions of what I thought I wanted, without actually knowing.”

Carroll – now a medical doctor in the family residency program at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System – chose her profession by sifting through library books.

student talks with doctor

The students received one-on-one advice from healthcare providers at the event.
Image Credit: Pete Martin / Clemson University

“I remember one summer, when I was at Clemson, I went to the library, and I looked up books in all the different health professions, checking them off the shelves – one on being a physician’s assistant, one on being a nurse practitioner, one on being a medical doctor – to find out what those careers looked like, because I just didn’t know,” Carroll said. “That was how I made my decision. But it’s changed a lot since then. I doubt any students here today did that, because they can come to this event and get their questions answered.”

When she isn’t working on her residency, Carroll directs the clinical medicine course and teaches osteopathic manipulative medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas Campus.

“I want to support the future generation of healthcare providers, with whatever profession they go into, be it medicine, dental health, pharmacy, or therapy,” Carroll said. “I want great callings for them.”

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“Tigers on Call” is the product of a collaboration between the Office of Heath Professions Advising, Alpha Epsilon Delta – the university’s pre-professional health honor’s society – and a number of other offices, such as the Center for Career and Professional Development, the College of Science Dean’s Office and the Office of Development. For more details, contact Jessica Owens at dean4@g.clemson.edu.