Student Highlight – Dr. Bernadette McCrory is an MPH student in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health. Bernie is originally from Denver, Colorado. She completed her MS and PhD in engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her BS at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Currently she is a research scientist within the Movement and Neurosciences Center at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, a research assistant professor within the Mechanical & Materials Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a public health officer within the Nebraska Army National Guard. She is also adjunct faculty at Concordia University and Nebraska Methodist College. Her work focuses on improving health care quality and safety by assessing and developing intuitive medical equipment, instrumentation, and systems. Her current research focuses on conducting biomechanical, physiological, and neurocognitive research to protect the health and safety of health care workers and to promote the independence and quality of life of persons with and without disabilities. She teaches courses concentrating on health care human factors and ergonomics, biostatistics, and military preventive medicine.
Bernie began her public health career as an Army medical officer. Her duties were to ensure that her fellow soldiers and the detainees they provided medical care for were as healthy as possible. She learned much about public health from her army experience, which drove her to pursue the academic training at UNMC. Now as a researcher, Bernie is practicing public health in different ways. Currently, she is developing technologies that will reduce the stress and strain that health care providers must endure while caring (lifting, moving, assisting) for their patients. Protecting the health and safety of caregivers will optimize their work quality life and productivity, leading to safer and higher quality patient care. The courses at UNMC have broadened her perspective on public health and its influences in almost all facets of everyday life. The theoretical underpinnings of the core courses in particular helped with these aspects. Within biostatistics, her professors have helped hone her technical skills already established through her doctoral work, but more importantly have created opportunities to work with real data on real projects. Dr. Jane Meza and Bernie are collaborating on a research training grant from the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Iowa from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They are surveying physical therapists and physical therapy assistants currently practicing at rehabilitation centers in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to determine the prevalence and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and the associations between work-related musculoskeletal disorders and specific exposure risk factors such as usage of patient-handling equipment. Along with their other collaborators, Dr. Judy Burnfield and Dr. Amy Darragh, they hope to make a tangible impact on the health and safety of clinicians working in physical therapy.