Expanding Training Opportunities at the PRCHN

The PRCHN is committed to providing a variety of training and mentoring opportunities to help train the next generation of public health researchers and increase research capacity in our community. In addition to internships and graduate assistantships, students in the Master of Public Health program, Nutrition department, and School of Nursing frequently do their capstone or practicum experiences at the Center. Plus. the Center is now host to pre-doctoral research students who are doing eight-week research rotations within the School of Medicine. Each of these students brings new energy, new focus, and a new perspective to our work.

Pre-Doctoral RotationThe CWRU School of Medicine recently implemented a sequence for all first-year PhD students in which they spend three eight-week rotations working in the research “lab” of three different faculty members. PRCHN Associate Director Darcy Freedman, PhD, is the supervisor for the Center’s first pre-doctoral student, Roberto Martinez, who is spending a rotation working for the FreshLink study. Dr. Freedman is excited about the new rotation program because “it emphasizes the importance of basic sciences training in fields like population health within the School of Medicine.” Through the rotation process, students are exposed to different types of research and can begin building academic support networks. Some students “arrive knowing exactly which faculty member they want to work with. Others aren’t as sure,” Dr. Freedman adds. “This broadens their horizons. The goal of the rotation experience is to widen students’ expectations of what they can become.”

Roberto Martinez, MD, MPH: I’m a pre-doctoral candidate in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and will be working under the guidance of Dr. Darcy Freedman in the FreshLink Ambassador Program. I chose to rotate at the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhood because I believe in the mission of the center, particularly “to foster partnerships within low-resource neighborhoods to develop, test, and implement effective and sustainable strategies and interventions to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic disease.” I am particularly interested in Community Based Participatory Research and working alongside communities to define the most effective ways to intervene in certain issues to reduce health disparities. I believe the PRC is excelling at this. During my participation in the FreshLink Ambassador program, I will be able to work on improving my skills on qualitative analysis, hypothesizing using theory from the Population Health field, as well as using traditional statistical analysis to perform evaluations of the program that will help improve its implementation and performance. In the future, I hope to continue to use these skills to conduct timely evaluations that can improve both policy and program implementation of public health interventions.

Nursing Capstone 

Nursing Capstone students Natalie Fishlin, Isabelle Tung, Karen Tan, and Maggie Chiu.

Isabelle Tung: I am currently working on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for Cuyahoga County, and it has given me an amazing opportunity to see the overall effect our public health interventions have. I wanted to do my capstone at the PRCHN because it’s a program that gives the residents of these neighborhoods a voice and strives to help identify barriers to good health. While I have this opportunity to be at the PRCHN, I hope I can have an impact on this community I’ve become a part of in the last four years. Although it has only been a few weeks, being here has already challenged me to conduct research and to approach issues from not only the nursing perspective but from the community perspective as well.

CWRU’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing requires all undergraduate students to complete a ten-week Senior Capstone project focused on public health or community health. The experience provides students the opportunity to analyze and apply concepts in health and health care, health policy and finance, culture, epidemiology, interventions, ethics, and more. The PRCHN is pleased to welcome four Nursing capstone students this fall. Karen Tan, Maggie Chiu, Isabelle Tung, and Natalie Fishlin are working on a number of different projects, among them Breathe Free, foodNEST, and YRBS. We’ve asked them to share their plans and experiences here.

Karen Tan: I will be working on the Breathe Free Project at the PRCHN. Throughout this capstone, I hope to become confident in my ability to participate in the research process. I would like to see what impact the Breathe Free Project has on the community and ultimately to see smoking rates in Cleveland decrease. My experience at the PRCHN will help me become a more holistic nurse, because I will take into consideration community needs rather than just individual needs of patients. I think that immersing myself in the community experience will allow me to be more aware of problems that could affect the overall health of a patient, rather than just the disease process.

Yuchi Chiu: I am a fourth year nursing student at CWRU. At the PRCHN, I am currently working on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. I chose to do my capstone at the PRCHN because I wanted to gain a greater understanding of research and see firsthand how research projects are conducted. I hope by following the mission of the PRCHN, which embraces direct interaction with the community, I will be able to build an awareness of the vastly different mentalities people may have towards health and be respectful of their beliefs in order to deliver culturally competent care. This will enhance my future career in nursing and public health. Thank you everyone for being a part of this experience. I look forward to working and learning with all of you!

Natalie Fishlin: I’m excited to be a part of the foodNEST and OH-NIP projects! I hope to learn new skills regarding analyzing and compiling data sets, gain a better understanding of how someone’s environment/community can have a direct impact on their well-being, and discover the struggles of living in the middle of a food desert. I envision this experience enhancing my future nursing career in multiple ways. It will give me first-hand insight into research processes, which will aid any future endeavors into the field of research. It will also help me empathize better, since things I might take for granted, such as access to healthy foods, are out of others’ control.