By Crystal Bennett | Office of Creative Services

Kathie Elmore spends her days thinking of creative ways to help people. The patients she sees every day don’t have funds for expensive tests to diagnose their illness level.

She depends on the lessons she learned as a Clemson student to determine the best thing she can do for her patient.

“In a typical nursing school environment, you do clinical hours at doctors’ offices, where a lot of times people you see have insurance and might have chronic illnesses, but they’re well controlled,” Elmore said. “When you go to free clinics, these illnesses are much more advanced and much more complicated.”

Elmore was one of the hundreds of nursing students who come into Clemson’s Sullivan Center to do clinical and volunteer hours. Managed by nurse practitioners and partially funded by private donations, the Sullivan Center partners with area community groups to offer programs and services to improve the health, education and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Also a low-cost clinic for faculty and staff on campus, the center gives nursing undergraduate and graduate students like Elmore hands-on experience working in both a clinical office and free clinic setting.

After being a registered nurse for 30 years, Elmore entered Clemson to get her undergraduate degree. With the help of funding from a Clemson assistantship, she was then able to get her master’s with a focus on adult/gerontological nursing. Elmore spent many degree-required and volunteer hours working with the center’s community projects such as breast cancer screenings.

Now a nurse practitioner, Elmore is part of the Sullivan Center’s strategy to provide improved access to services. She splits her time at the center, working with students on their clinical skills, and at the Easley Free Clinic, finding creative, affordable ways to treat her patients.