Clemson public health science alumni give back to department by mentoring student interns
Clemson alum Anthony Poole stays busy. Poole currently serves as director of quality assurance at Fetter Health Care Network in Charleston where, in addition to seeing patients as a physician’s assistant, he also oversees health outreach programs that bring aid to vulnerable populations. Poole has been in the role for almost a year, but it became evident early in his tenure that in order to meet Fetter’s outreach goals, Poole was going to need all the help he could get.
Poole remembered his time as a student in Clemson’s public health sciences department and how much he valued his experience as an intern with the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium. Poole realized that Fetter’s current needs could be fulfilled by an intern, and he saw it as an opportunity to provide an internship similar to his own for an aspiring public health professional at Clemson.
“My internship experience really opened my eyes when I got into this field,” Poole said. “It taught me early on about the importance of exposure to different aspects of the health care field and that there’s more to it than just being a doctor or nurse.”
Poole reached out to Kathleen Meyer, senior lecturer and internship coordinator in Clemson’s public health sciences department. Meyer has managed an extensive database of possible internships for students and matched them to appropriate internship experiences for over 17 years. She also teaches the department’s Pre-Internship Seminar course, which helps students brush up on interview skills, showcase their undergraduate experience and prepare them for internships.
All students in the department are required to complete a 180-hour internship before graduation, so the experience is an integral part of the department’s curriculum, acting as a culmination of many classes in the major.
Meyer connected senior Carly Owens with Poole, as Owens had long expressed interest in being a physician’s assistant. If Poole wanted to provide a revelatory health care experience to a Clemson intern, he more than succeeded. Owens said she has seen firsthand how important population health initiatives can be to communities thanks to her internship.
“This experience reminded me why I wanted to go into this field in the first place,” Owens said. “I’ve enjoyed shadowing Anthony in the clinic, but the outreach work has revealed how important it is to close gaps in care that certain populations are more prone to experience. Serving the underserved takes on a whole new meaning when the patients are homeless and in real need.”
During summer 2017, Owens and several other students were spread across the state enjoying internship experiences representative of the diverse nature of the health care field. According to Meyer, the major is broad, so her internship database runs the gamut from physical therapists to health administrators and those involved with health promotion.
Senior Shannon Horgan worked with public health sciences alumna Terri Ann Belk, a wellness coordinator at Glen Raven Fabrics in Anderson. Husband and wife team Bryan and Jeanette Wingate, both public health sciences alumni, took on senior John Welsh at their dental practice, Forest Acres Family Dentistry in Columbia.
Senior public health sciences student Kendall Joseph, also a linebacker for Clemson’s football team, managed to find an internship experience that played to his interests in both health care and sports. Meyer paired Joseph with Quintin Hall, assistant sports performance director at Velocity Sports Performance in Piedmont.
Hall, a public health sciences alum, played as a linebacker on the Clemson team alongside Joseph. Hall enjoyed taking his former teammate on as an intern at Velocity Sports Performance. Joseph assisted Hall in overseeing training for young athletes, many of whom came to Velocity Sports Performance with the hope of one day becoming collegiate athletes.
“It’s great to be able to be involved in sports and training, but this major gives you a whole other set of tools to work relating to athletes and physical training,” Joseph said. “Quintin has shown me how understanding data and having knowledge related to population health can be a real benefit in sports performance coaching.”
Meyer said she enjoys the process of pairing students with mentors, especially when those mentors are Clemson public health sciences alumni. She said internships bring to life concepts from lectures and classrooms, and that it is heartening to see students eager to get started.
“I love when students finally get around to doing internships because they get excited like little kids,” Meyer said. “That excitement is shared by the professionals hosting them; we’ve maintained so many relationships over the years because they love to teach and share their knowledge.”
Although Owens has served as the first intern for Poole at Fetter, she likely won’t be the last. Poole has enjoyed sharing his experience with an intern, and he has helped Owens with her applications and connected her with many physician’s assistants in the Lowcountry. Poole hopes to make Fetter a home for future Clemson public health sciences interns. If Owens’ experience is any indication, Meyer will be happy to send future students his way.
“My internship has 100 percent solidified my career choice,” Owens said. “When I started the process of applications and creating a personal statement, I struggled, but since I’ve started the internship it’s sparked all the inspiration I need.”