Julie Summey

Julie Summey was one of three finalists in the American Public Health Association’s student research competition.
Image Credit: Julie Summey

Julie Summey, doctoral student in the Clemson’s public health sciences department, was recently chosen as one of three finalists in the American Public Health Association’s student research competition. She presented her research at the association’s 2016 annual meeting in Denver, Colorado for the section entitled “Present and Future Statistics in Public Health.”

Summey’s study was part of a large funded project to investigate health and health care for the uninsured population in South Carolina. Her research explores the relationship between emergency department visits and the long-term uninsured. Summey describes her experience presenting at the conference among nearly 14,000 participants as simultaneously intimidating and inspiring.

“There were so many qualified people there from great institutions such as Johns Hopkins and Berkley,” Summey said. “Everyone was so excited about their own research, and it was inspiring to see how invested they were in their work! It made me appreciate their research and gave me fresh ideas about my own.”

Before conducting the statistical analysis, Summey had anticipated the positive relationship between emergency department visits and the chronically uninsured. Her reasoning was that uninsured individuals have no access to primary health care and subsequently delay treatment until they are forced to resort to the emergency department.

However, she was surprised to learn the most frequent emergency visits were for diseases of the mouth, acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections. According to Summey, this study is the first to examine such a relationship. It helps to make the statistics involving the long-term uninsured relevant, suggesting that regular and preventative health care services for the uninsured could reduce the unnecessary use of emergency department resources.

Dr. Khoa Truong, associate professor in Clemson’s public health science department, served as Summey’s mentor throughout the research process. He is excited that this competition allowed Julie to receive the recognition she deserved for her hard work.

“Julie was very involved early on and took a leading role in this study,” Truong said. “The scope of work was quite significant and the honor she received speaks volume to her contribution and talent. I have every reason to believe that Julie will be more successful with her research and make her name known throughout the public health community and make Clemson proud of her achievements.”

As a member of Clemson’s applied health research and evaluation program, Summey is working to conduct applied research that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of public and private health over a wide variety of health delivery systems. She said she feels nothing but appreciation for this small but rising field at Clemson.

The American Public Health Association advocates the health of all people and all communities by speaking out for public health issues and policies backed by science since 1872. Its goal is to improve public health and achieve equity in health status while creating the healthiest nation in one generation. It is known to be the only organization that influences federal policy and brings together members from all fields of public health.