Carolyn Sleeth

Describe your career path since graduating from the UI College of Public Health.
I am currently a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. I will graduate in 2018 and hope to become a pediatrician.

How did working with the PRC as a student help prepare or inform you for your current job?
Working in Ottumwa with the PRC helped me discover how much more there is to health than just medicine. As a future physician, understanding my patients’ backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and cultures will help me treat them more effectively and compassionately. I also gained important research skills, like learning how to conduct and analyze surveys. The work I did at the PRC helped me to publish a paper this summer on stigma and its consequences in people with epilepsy.

What’s the most important thing you took away from your time working with the PRC?
The most important lesson I learned at the PRC was to work with the community to achieve their goals. Not only is going into a community with only your goals in mind unrealistic, it can also be counterproductive to the concerns of the community.

What are one or two of the most satisfying aspects of your work in public health?
While I am not working directly in public health right now, there are definitely public health aspects to my activities as a medical student. For example, I often volunteer in free clinics for the underserved in Tucson, and am better able to understand their situations and care for them because of my public health background.

What do you think current students should know about the value of working with faculty and research projects like those affiliated with the PRC?
Being able to work with the PRC provided me with so many research opportunities I never would have otherwise had, in situations I had never experienced. It is a great chance to gain new skills and work with enthusiastic, knowledgeable people, both in public health and in the community.

What would you tell students about the value of working on community-based research or rural health?
Community-based participatory research was a very rewarding way to both learn more about the community and help them achieve the health goals they had specified.