Patty Scholting, MPAS, PA-C
Student Highlight – Patty Scholting is a student in the UNMC College of Public Health (COPH) Master of Public Health program with a concentration in Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC). She entered the MPH program on a part-time basis in the fall of 2008. With her course work complete, she is now turning her attention toward developing her service-learning/capstone project. Patty expects to graduate in 2014.
Patty is currently on the faculty at UNMC in the Physician Assistant program. She is an assistant professor and academic coordinator in the School of Allied Health Professions. She also practices as a PA in the field of internal medicine. It is there that she became interested in public health and more specifically in COPC. “Our current health care system focuses on acute or chronically ill patients and as a result healthy individuals are overlooked,” says Patty about the character of our current health care system. COPC identifies all members of a defined community, including ill and healthy individuals, in an effort to address health issues comprehensively. Patty believes that looking at health through the lens of population, and not just the individual, is critical to addressing the health-related challenges of today. Patty’s interests include addressing workforce issues in rural health by providing students and future PAs the tools they need to put COPC into action within the communities they serve. The UNMC COPH has provided her with not only an expanded view of health care but also the means to teach her students the importance of public health in every field of medicine.
Outside the world of academia and medicine, Patty likes to spend much of her time outdoors, hiking, camping, gardening, and spending time with her family.
Student Highlight – Caryn Vincent is an MPH student in the maternal and child Health concentration. She is from York, Nebraska. She has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in psychobiology, with a minor in public health. Caryn is also the current president of the College of Public Health Student Association.
Caryn first became interested in public health while participating in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at UNMC. Through this program she was introduced to issues of health disparities and poor access to health care. For most of high school and college, Caryn planned to attend medical school and work as a physician in a public health clinic. However, after completing a minor in public health and learning about all that public health has to offer, she decided that a career in public health was the right fit. Caryn was able to further her interest in public health by volunteering with the Friends Program in Kearney, which is a youth mentoring program similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was matched with a young, low-income girl, and through this relationship, she was able to see how disparities and poor access to health care affect individuals and families. Caryn saw how devastating not being able to access health care can be for a child whose leg hurts or has a toothache, but who is unable to have it cared for because her family cannot afford the care.
Caryn’s experience with the Friends Program introduced her to the world of maternal and child health and helped her recognize how important it is to advocate and work for children and families—the main reason why she decided to pursue a masters of public health degree with a concentration in maternal and child health.
Caryn is interested in adolescent health, particularly STD and pregnancy prevention in adolescents, as well as in adolescent mental health. Her career goal is to work in the field of adolescent health, working with programs that promote safe sex practices and work to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection.
Caryn has found that being a part of the College of Public Health has been far more rewarding than she could have imagined. The students, faculty, and staff have been so welcoming and have really helped her become more knowledgeable in public health. She also had the opportunity to take on leadership positions within the college that have helped her develop leadership skills that will help her become a public health leader as she finishes the program and enters the workforce.
Student Highlight – Oyewale Shiyanbola is a doctoral student in the department of Health Services Research and Administration. He is from Southwestern Nigeria and completed his MPH in Public Health Administration at the UNMC College of Public Health. He has a medical degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and has worked as a general medical practitioner in both urban and rural settings. His work with rural populations in Nigeria stimulated his interest in public health. The impact of preventive services in maintaining a healthy population and reducing the spread of disease became more apparent as he became increasingly involved in community vaccination and health education outreach programs. In some instances, administering preventive services in rural communities was challenging due to conflicting beliefs regarding certain health interventions, such as vaccine use. Additionally, he observed how inefficient health care organization and delivery led to poor health outcomes. Hence, he decided to pursue a degree in public health, focusing on the administration and policy track.
Working as a medical officer, particularly in rural settings, gave Wale the opportunity to work with multinational agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Some of the rural communities where he worked were still dealing with childhood killer diseases such as polio, which had been eradicated in most parts of the country. Hence, these agencies assisted with preventive services by providing health care personnel training as well as medical supplies, such as vaccines. Most importantly, they collaborated with the government both at federal and local levels in combating health challenges.
Wale’s research interests include health outcomes, policy, and economic analysis of health interventions. He hopes that in the future, his research and expertise will be useful in the United States and Nigeria in achieving health care improvement by influencing public policy and organizational decision making.
According to Wale, the College of Public Health has “worked hard to establish a wonderful learning environment.” He is impressed at the amount of resources available for faculty and students to further their research and develop themselves intellectually. He notes that the faculty and students are appreciative of everyone’s cultural background and that this has helped international students like him to fit in well, both in the college and in the city of Omaha.
Student Highlight – Rohan Jadhav is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health. He is from Mumbai, India, and has finished the first year of his doctoral program. Rohan earned an undergraduate degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik, India. After finishing his medical training, Rohan worked as a family physician for two years in his hometown, Dombivali, a suburb near Mumbai. While working as a physician, he gradually realized that although one-on-one medical consultation is important, it is not enough to improve the health of a community and that public health research and advocacy was also necessary. With this understanding, Rohan decided to pursue higher education in public health and moved to the United States for training in public health science and research at Missouri State University, where he earned an MPH degree. During an internship at Linn County Public Health, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rohan was exposed to a variety of public health disciplines and experienced how these disciplines worked hand in hand. This experience expanded his view of public health practice in the United States.
Rohan’s interest in injury and disease prevention and in teaching healthy behaviors motivated him to pursue doctoral education in Environmental, Health, Occupational Health, and Toxicology at the College of Public Health (COPH) of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His dissertation is focused on risk factors in agricultural injuries. Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States and in many parts of the world. Farmers are exposed to various dangers, including hazardous machinery, large animals, and working on large bins. The complex nature of farming makes it difficult for farmers to avoid these exposures, putting them at risk of fatal and non-fatal injuries. Rohan is working to identify the factors that elevate injury risk so that researchers can target specific populations with appropriate interventions.
Rohan is also interested in risk evaluation of exposures that are generally considered safe. One such exposure is to the smoke created by electrocautery during surgery. Rohan is working to evaluate the risk of pollutants in the surgical smoke. Rohan hopes that in the future, his expertise in environmental and occupational health and medicine will enable him to improve the health outcomes of communities across the United States and in India.
Rohan finds the learning atmosphere at UNMC highly encouraging to students, noting that faculty and staff have been very helpful and attentive. He also observes that the abundant resources for research in public health set the UNMC COPH apart from other institutions
Saad Alshahrani, MD
Student Highlight – Dr. Saad Alshahrani graduated from King Faisal University Medical School in Saudi Arabia in 2004. As a new graduate, Dr. Alshahrani was full of enthusiasm to practice medicine. He worked as a general practitioner in King Abdulaziz Hospital in Dhahran City, working closely with the management in the area of health and fitness. From that time, he began to think deeply about the health status of his community. He found that although Saudi Arabia had many modern hospitals with advanced technology, common health problems were still having a major impact on the country’s health system.
It was at that time that Dr. Alshahrani started to believe that he wanted to participate in building a stronger public health system in Saudi Arabia. He believes that such a system will improve planning for health services based on public health needs and on the most common diseases that need to be addressed. Consequently, Dr. Alshahrani decided to pursue training in public health by securing a master’s degree in health management planning and policy from Nuffield Institute at Leeds University, UK. After completing his MA degree, Dr. Alshahrani took a position in the 400-bed King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam (KFSHD), working in the Corporate Strategic Planning Department, where he supported hospital management to develop the hospital’s strategic plan. By providing data on disease prevalence and referrals outside the region, Dr. Alshahrani helped identify the diseases that had the greatest impact on the health of residents in the eastern province in Saudi Arabia.
Realizing the need to further investigate the causes of the many diseases that impact the health system of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Alshahrani transferred to the epidemiology unit at the newly established research center at KFSHD. The research center plans to expand the services in all core areas of KFSHD, particularly oncology and neuroscience. This expansion of services will require more qualified and skilled personnel. To help meet that need, Dr. Alshahrani decided to enroll in the UNMC College of Public Health (COPH) epidemiology PhD program. When he returns to the Saudi Arabia, he expects to play an important role in developing a cancer registry and promoting more local epidemiologic cancer studies, in addition to supervising students in cancer research studies.
Dr. Alshahrani is excited about the learning environment at the COPH, and said that the “kindness and compassion of our college’s staff and faculty help me to feel that I am indeed a part of the college.” He feels that his educational and social experience at the COPH will “leave indelible memories” and will prepare him for a successful career.
Student Highlight — Jiali Zheng is an MPH student in the biostatistics concentration. She is from mainland China and is currently in her last semester. Jiali received a bachelor of science degree in nutrition science from Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, China. During her four-year undergraduate study in medical school, she was not only exposed to medical and nutritional knowledge, but also developed an interest in the area of public health, especially in biostatistics and epidemiology. At that time, she wanted to be actively involved in disease prevention and control. She embraced a noble goal: to reduce the burden of disease and the need for hospital care through preventive action in the world. Jiali wants to see a world where fewer people resort to expensive hospital care where and when it can be prevented.
Jiali decided to study biostatistics because statistical methods are integral to understanding what is useful, what works, where possibilities may exist, and more. We could never understand disease trends or the impact of risk factors without the rich tools we use in statistical analysis. In the second year of her MPH studies, Jiali learned and gained experience in many of her biostatistics courses. The cases and examples that were used are very much relevant today and are the kind of challenges that would emerge in the real world. She believes that her experience in this program has equipped her with the skills and knowledge that will make for a successful and gratifying career in biostatistics. She particularly applauds the use of data sets and examples in a global context, not relevant to only the United States.
Jiali has built long lasting relationships in the College of Public Health. She likes the faculty and her peers and appreciates the warm, friendly, and open environment in the college. Jiali likes the positive atmosphere and helpful attitude faculty have towards students. She received a lot of helpful suggestions and guidance from instructors. Jiali worked one semester as a research assistant and another semester as a teaching assistant. After she graduates, she plans to pursue a PhD degree in nutrition epidemiology, which is an area that will combine her undergraduate and graduate background and focus on what we consume everyday and the impact of those dietary decisions on health status.
Student Highlight – Amy Houser is an MPH student in the health promotion track. Her hometown is Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Amy has a bachelor of arts degree in both biology and history and received her degrees in 2011 from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
Amy was first drawn to public health after a completing unit on infectious diseases in high school biology. However, for most of high school and college, she planned to pursue a degree in medicine. This plan changed during her junior year of undergraduate study. She learned more about the field of public health and the diversity of areas in which she could focus, which ultimately led to her decision to pursue education in public health. After graduation in 2011, she participated in a year of service with AmeriCorps at the Siouxland District Health Department (SDHD) in Sioux City, Iowa. At the SDHD, Amy coordinated and developed childhood wellness initiatives such as the Live Healthy Iowa Kids Governor’s Challenge, Fall Fitness Day, and Go the Distance Day. As part of these initiatives, she taught health education lessons to preschoolers and elementary students. The main focus of these lessons was healthy foods and drinks and ideas for physical activity. In addition to her efforts in childhood wellness, she worked with her supervisor on several worksite wellness initiatives, such as the Nutritional Environment Measurement Survey- Vending (NEMS-V) and worksite wellness toolkits. The purpose of NEMS-V is to assess and increase the nutritional quality of food available in vending machines. As a result of their efforts last summer, Amy and her team were able to assess and successfully improve the nutritional quality of vending machines at several local businesses.
Amy’s experiences at SDHD were life changing. As a result of these experiences, she decided to pursue a master’s in public health in health promotion. Her career goal is to continue to promote wellness as a health coordinator for a school district or as a health planner at a state or local health department.
Amy says, “The College of Public Health at UNMC is one of the most welcoming organizations I have ever been a part of. It is very clear that the staff and faculty are dedicated to the success of the students and the advancement of public health. I have greatly enjoyed my time thus far in my degree program.”