Denisonians in Health Professions: Clinical Research Assistant

Denisonians in health professions: clinical research assistant - lauren-jay-260x300.png image #0Lauren Jay ’14

Role: Clinical Research Assistant

Fun Fact: I’ve been to “Castaway” island in Fiji and met Wilson on the beach

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I wanted to get some experience in the field prior to applying to graduate school. I unfortunately did not get the opportunity to do research while I was at Denison, so I wanted to see if research was a potential career for me.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
I love meeting and consenting patients for our various research studies. I also enjoy learning new lab techniques and becoming more knowledgeable about current pharmaceutical trials. Engaging with doctors and other health care team members also has its perks. I’ve met a lot of great people while working for The Ohio State College of Medicine.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging aspect of my work is meeting all the dynamic needs of pharmaceutical trials. Our lab is involved in a few trials that require very detailed documents, logs, and reports. I did not realize the amount of work, organization, and communication that goes into being the main clinical lab. There are very high expectations and you cannot afford to make mistakes. Thus, being proactive and staying organized can help mitigate some of the stresses that come with this job.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
A typical day involves running a clinical enzyme assay, gathering and processing samples, and helping with daily operations of the lab. When I first started my job, I used to consent patients for our research studies. Since then, I have strengthened my lab skills and am now one of the lead technicians. 

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Reach out to alumni in the field. Do not be afraid that you’re “bothering them”, because most alumni are willing to help! If they can’t help get you a position, they may be able to point you in the right direction and/or even put you in contact with some of their colleagues. Networking is KEY. Use the power of the Denison alumni network to help you reach your next step in life.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Exercise Physiology

Denisonians in health professions: exercise physiology - lindsey-nock-300x289.png image #0Lindsey Nock ’14

Role: Exercise Physiologist at UC Health

Professional School: Miami University, graduated in 2016

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I started Denison as a Chemistry major, wanting to go to pharmacy school but quickly decided chemistry was not for me. I switched to a Biology major my sophomore year, still wanting a career somewhere in the medical field. I shadowed several professions during my junior year, searching for the right fit. I found that perfect fit in Cardiac Rehab as an Exercise Physiologist.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
The reason I love going to work every day is because I know I am positively influencing the lives of so many people. My profession is so incredibly rewarding because I help cardiac and pulmonary patients improve their health through exercise and education about living a healthy lifestyle. I physically see improvement in these patients as they make their way through rehab. I am very passionate about living a healthy life by eating well and exercising. I also love knowing how exercise positively affects the body, so getting to share that knowledge with individuals every day is a lot of fun.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Sometimes we get patients who are not willing to change. Trying to help patients who are stubborn or who really don’t have the desire to improve their poor habits is very frustrating. However, I’ve learned that sometimes it just takes more time for some people to want to change aspects of their lifestyle and that I might just have to try a little harder and be patient because usually these patients will improve in some way by the end of rehab.

Describe what a “typical day” looks like for you.
When I come to work, I first set up a few things for the day. By 8:00, patients start coming in for their cardiac rehab classes. We have 7 classes three days a week with up to 12 patients per class. During each class, the staff and I rotate jobs. The jobs include sitting at the EKG monitor and telling each patient what levels on the cardio equipment they should be on, taking blood pressures, and doing individual treatment plans with patients. We also teach various education classes every Wednesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for pulmonary rehab which is very similar to cardiac rehab, but patients aren’t hooked up to an EKG monitor. On those days, we also do orientations with new patients where we talk about their health history and document the evaluation prior to starting their rehab program.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
I recommend shadowing an Exercise Physiologist in cardiac rehab first to see if that career path is right for you, do an internship during the summer to get some experience, get a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology after Denison, and then work on getting an ACSM certification.

CandidCareer – Career Video Platform

We want to tell you about one of our new online resources here at the Knowlton Center. In addition to enjoying our one-on-one career appointments, peer advisors, and career labs, we now have available a YouTube-esque video platform that allows students to explore career paths through informational interviews with professionals.

The platform is CandidCareer. Access the platform here at!

CandidCareer has a library of career-specific informational interviews with industry professionals. This is an excellent way to explore the field that you hope to enter. You are able to learn information about jobs directly from those who work them, and there are a lot of jobs represented too! CandidCareer has hundreds of videos available.

In addition to job specific interviews, CandidCareer also has a library of videos to help with anything career related. Need tips on writing a cover letter? Done. Need tips on creating a great LinkedIn profile? Done. Even if you aren’t looking for anything specific exploring through CandidCareer is an excellent source to peruse as you start gearing down for interviews and careers after Denison.

So if you want an edge on your job search and to learn reliable information about the process at any time, check out Candid Career!

Career Ready Bootcamp!

The week before the semester started the Knowlton Center brought 18 sophomore and junior students from back to campus to participate in a 3-day intensive career-readiness program. The students came from all over Denison representing different majors and extracurricular activities all with one goal: to prepare for internships and careers after Denison.

The Students all came together and participated in several preparation workshops with our career coaches. These workshops focused on writing resumes and cover letters, networking, LinkedIn Profiles, and interviewing. Additionally we were all able to participate in a voice training session with Voice Coach from Available Light Theatre, Acacia Duncan. Acacia demonstrated techniques to add confidence to your voice and covered the dos and don’ts of presenting yourself vocally.

The program also included a day business trip to Columbus. There the students toured companies from several different industries and were able to gain a perspective of professional life in Columbus, a hub of employment for recent Denison grads. The trip culminated with a networking event with several Denison alumni. The students were able to practice their networking skills and make professional connections with Denison alumni.

The last day of the program gave the students a chance to apply everything they learned in a series of mock interviews. They were given a chance to perfect their resumes and choose from a list of sample internships to interview for with our career coaches and other professionals around the college. This allowed the students to interview and receive valuable feedback. Later the students participated in a Designing Your Life Workshop, a program offered by the Knowlton Center in conjunction with the Red Fram Lab developed from the strategies of Design Thinking out of Stanford. The workshop allows you to plan several versions of your future and what steps you need to take and when, and is intended to keep your mind open to innovation.

This “Career Ready Bootcamp” is an idea that the Knowlton Center has been thinking of for a while now but was finally able to bring it to fruition this year. The program was a success and we hope to bring it to Denison annually so we can do what we do best: career preparation!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nursing

A path to health professions: nursing - beverly-fleuter-200x300.png image #0Beverly Fleuter ’13 (Johnson)

Role: Registered Nurse

Professional Schools attended: Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (2014); Arizona State University

Fun Fact: I have been to all 50 states!

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
Many of my family, friends, and mentors thought I would be a good nurse and that I would enjoy the professional development involved. I did A LOT of background research and preparation to decide how and when to go to nursing school. I knew I was doing the right thing when I enjoyed my prerequisites and was excited about the nursing curriculum.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
I get to work face to face with patients and families every day. I also get to participate in the science of nursing by doing research. Nursing has dozens of trajectories that all lead to very different lifestyles and a variety of specialties. I could decide to go into nursing informatics and help engineer the programming we use in the hospital or I could go work in the OR as a scrub nurse. There are so many options.  

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Remembering self-care. Nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging job, especially at the bedside. Fortunately, many organizations provide support with this aspect.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
I work a 12 hour shift, three days a week. I get to work at 7AM and leave around 7:30PM. I get a report on how my patients did overnight and then implement treatments for them throughout the day in conjunction with the medical team, social workers, and physical therapy.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Just like there are many career trajectories, there are also many different educational trajectories. Diploma programs, Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral (Clinical and Research), and Certificates. Talk to someone who has pursued nursing as a “second degree” or a second career to give you guidance on what will be the most cost effective degree for your goals!

Wisr: Networking Made Easy

Get Wisr.

The Knowlton Center is proud to unveil our newest resource to help make networking made easy. Wisr is a tool that allows you to search for Denison alumni in your field and organize networking conversations. Click this link to get started with Wisr!

You start off by connecting through your LinkdIn account (so make sure your account is up to date!). Once you have entered all of your information, you can start searching for alumni. Your Wisr dashboard will automatically suggest alumni to you, but you can always browse through different industries. Once you find someone you want to connect with you can either message them or request a call. Both are great ways to start learning more. If you request a call, the system will help you schedule a time that works and will send you both an individualized number. All you have to do is call that number and you will be connected. Be sure to have questions prepared!

Networking is a great way to develop professional relationships, learn more about industries, and learn specific information on companies and positions. Building connections can help you with your exploration process and potentially widen job prospects. Wisr helps facilitate this by putting you in contact with alumni who are more than willing to help you out.

Want to learn more about networking? Visit the Knowlton Center in Burton Morgan! We can offer you information on how to build your professional network and sign you up for a networking workshop with one of our career coaches.

Land the Internship? Are you Ready to Make the Most of It?

Land the internship? are you ready to make most of it? - denison-internship-program-2018-presentation.jpg image #0Internships are important.  You know that by now.  An internship provides you the opportunity to develop valuable skills, build your resume, gain experience, grow your network, explore industries and hopefully earn some money. While you might be tired everyone telling you to find an internship, the reality is internships are valuable and necessary.  Perhaps more essential than you initially thought.  Your summer internship may, in fact, be a bit of an extended job interview.  

In 2017 The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that 75% of employers with internship programs indicated the primary focus of these programs was to recruit college graduates for full-time, entry-level positions.  LinkedIn provided some interesting data about the companies utilizing internships as a recruitment tool and their respective conversion rates into employment.   So it’s not a given that your internship will land you a full-time job with the same company but with so many top employers converting interns into employees it definitely suggests you enter your internship prepared to nail it.  

So how do you go into your internship ready to slay it?  Cue the Denison Internship Program is also known as DIP.  DIP provides you a “structured learning experience as you explore the career field and apply academic coursework in the workplace.”  Basically, we are going to help you head into your internship with goals, review your progress during the internship, and help you reflect after your internship to ensure you can articulate just how the internship impacted your career journey.  

PS – if you haven’t landed your internship yet then come see us!  The Knowlton Center offers multiple resources to help you.  Have you checked out our Career Toolkit to learn the basics and get started?  Try attending one of our Career Labs for a more in-depth look at career topics such as “Landing Your Internship”–a topic so important we named a Lab after it!  Finally, work 1-1 with our coaches and peer advisors to be ready to act when the opportunity presents itself.  

Denisonians in Health Professions: Med Student

Denisonians in health professions: med student - andrew-groff-234x300.png image #0Andrew Groff ’16

Role: 2nd year medical school student

Professional School attending: Penn State College of Medicine      

Fun Fact: My favorite book is The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho. I try to read this book twice a year to keep me focused. I encourage anyone who has not had the opportunity to read this book to pick up a copy; it is well worth your time.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
Going into college, I had an idea that I wanted to go into medicine because of my love for the sciences, but I really kept an open-mind to see if other career paths interested me. I have always been fascinated by how medicine has the unique ability to heal. I also wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and I knew that medicine would give me a unique opportunity to do so. Throughout Denison, I had friends and mentors through classes, clubs, and running cross-country who attended medical school prior to me. They provided me with advice and gave me an honest view of what it really takes to be successful in medical school. They shared stories of making strong and meaningful relationships with patients and how determining diagnoses is similar to solving a complex puzzle. To me, there are very few professions in which people entrust their life and death issues, happiest moments, and deepest secrets because of the sense of trust developed within the patient-physician relationship. My decision to pursue medicine was solidified by my liberal arts education at Denison through demonstrating the importance of both basic sciences and the humanities.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
My favorite aspect of attending medical school is having the opportunity to fully dive into the medical sciences and see the clinical correlations to what we are learning. Although I loved learning from many different disciplines at Denison, learning the science behind the medicine and making connections from the classroom to the clinical cases is extremely gratifying because it feels like you have made it. Being a pre-med student can be a difficult experience because of the stigma that is associated with it; however, in medical school, there are so many more opportunities to shadow, do clinical research, and even scrub in to surgery cases. Being in clinic, developing an understanding of how the greater healthcare system functions, and feeling like I can make a difference for patients, even as a first-year student, have been my favorite aspects thus far.         

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
I think the most challenging aspect of medical school is learning to balance one’s time between studying while still maintaining a life outside of school. It is easy to find oneself spending every hour of the day studying with the same people in the medical school library. Medical school can become very isolating because of the hours required to truly master and retain the seemingly never-ending material. There is always something new to be learned and if you are not actively doing something, it feels as if you are falling behind. It is a definite learning curve, but completely manageable. From my experience, I found it to be crucial to keep in touch with friends and family to maintain relationships outside of the medical school bubble. This keeps one grounded and help one realize that there is a life outside of medicine.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
An average day for me, consists of going to class in the morning from 8AM-12PM. We have lecture for 2 hours every day about selected topics from the current organ block that we are studying. Depending on the organ block, we also have assigned anatomy dissection lab in place of lecture. At Penn State, we also do something called Problem Based Learning or PBL. This is a collaborative learning process where we are assigned into small groups of about 8 students. We are then assigned two cases to read over on Monday morning and develop learning objectives or questions that we have about each case. Then we discuss one of the cases on Wednesday morning and the other case on Friday morning. These are roundtable discussion where we help one another understand the basic science and pathophysiology of certain disease states in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. We also take two other classes called Medical Humanities and Science of Health Systems on Tuesday and Thursday mornings respectively. These are great courses that broaden our medical education, but they also serve as a break from the basic science from PBL and lecture. Once per week we also have a Clinical Skills class where we learn about patient interviewing skills and physical exam skills. There will often be a standardized patient at each session who volunteers to allow us to practice our interviewing and physical exam skills.

On most afternoons, I essentially have self-directed learning, in which I am responsible for reviewing lecture, researching the cases from PBL, and reinforcing concepts from previous weeks. I often spend a few hours after lecture reviewing the content from that day’s lectures and then take a break and go to the gym. In the evening, I try to get ahead by pre-reading the next day’s lecture or researching for PBL. Then, I wake up and do it all over again.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
I cannot emphasize the importance of finding a mentor early on in one’s college experience. I know I sound like Dr. Weinberg with the significance of mentorship, but mentors can be truly influential and transformative. A mentor does not necessarily need to be someone in the sciences per se, but someone that you trust and will continue to give you feedback as you grow and progress through your Denison experience. I was very fortunate to have great mentors who showed me how I can continue to improve and the importance of lifelong learning. I found the Center for Career Exploration to be a great resource to connect one with Denison alumni in the healthcare field to shadow and seek advice from. In my experience, these physicians helped show me how meaningful and fulfilling being a physician can be and how strong of an impact you can have on the lives of your patients.

Further, I really encourage working together with your pre-med peers and becoming friends with them. Although there is inevitable competition within classes as pre-med students, it is much better to take a collaborative approach so that everyone has the best opportunity to succeed. I believe that it is a good idea to start this early because much of medical school focuses on team-based and collaborative learning. Since clinical medicine relies heavily on team-work, the ability to work well with others and develop strong relationships with colleagues is essential. Finally, do your due diligence and self-reflect on the reasons you want to become a physician. Make sure that you are choosing a career in medicine because it will bring you happiness and you want to be of service to others. Medical school is a long-haul, requires a lot of dedication, and exemplifies the idea of delayed gratification. There are days that it may not seem worth it because other friends may not be as busy, but continue working toward your goal because I assure you, the sacrifice is worth the reward.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Clinical Psychology

Denisonians in health professions: clinical psychology - kristine-durking-221x300.png image #0Kristine Durkin ’14

Role: Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student

Graduate School attending:
West Virginia University Clinical Psychology Ph.D., Child Clinical Area, expected graduation in 2021       

Fun Fact:  I was in Denison University’s co-ed a cappella group DU-Wop

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I truly believe the factor that has the strongest impact on my success in my field, thus far, is having incredible mentors that have not only provided training and knowledge, but also unwavering support. This started with my incredible mentors at Denison University. I first became interested in Clinical Psychology in Dr. Erin Henshaw’s Abnormal Psychology class. I had participated in a number of research projects, including Dr. Nida Bikmen’s phenomenal studies, but I was drawn to Clinical Psychology when I recognized it is a field in which I could simultaneously conduct research that could have a tangible effects on people’s lives, as well as work one-on-one with individuals in need of help navigating their world while coping with mental health difficulties.

After graduating from Denison University in 2014, I began working as a research assistant at Wayne State University’s Pediatric Prevention Research Center where I gained valuable exposure to pediatric behavioral health intervention development and implementation and grant-funded research. In this role, I worked on Dr. Elizabeth Towner’s NIH-funded pilot randomized controlled trial that examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a family and home-based weight control intervention compared to standard of care on obesity reduction for preschoolers whose families receive WIC services. Additionally, I worked on a study funded by the Society of Pediatric Psychology that primarily aims to identify whether food-related budgeting skills, purchasing patterns and routines differentiate caregivers of obese and non-overweight preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. Finally, I assisted with a project that was a part of the Diabetes and Obesity Team Science (DOTS) program, which was a transdisciplinary research initiative that had a central goal of being a catalyst for interdisciplinary diabetes and obesity research in Detroit. Collectively, my experiences at Wayne State University reinforced my interested in pediatric psychology and furthered my training in conducting research on family-based behavioral interventions for children with chronic illnesses, and on health disparities.

I am currently in my second year as a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at West Virginia University. As a Ph.D. student, I fill a number of roles. I am a graduate research assistant for Dr. Christina Duncan’s HRSA-funded grant focusing on developing a pictorial asthma action plan for youth and families. I also serve as a therapist in the community clinic at WVU, the Quin Curtis Center where I regularly meet clients with a range of mental health concerns. Additionally, this semester I will be teaching undergraduate Abnormal Psychology to WVU students. I will defend my thesis entitled Examining the Association Amongst Expected Costs and Benefits, Peer Use, and Self-Reported Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Adolescents this fall. My future plans for my career include conducting research in the promotion of adherence to pediatric medical regimens and the development of family-based interventions to improve disease management and bolster children’s psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
My favorite aspects of my profession are working with multidisciplinary teams to develop research questions that can have lasting effects on pediatric care in medical settings. Families face a number of challenges when a child has a chronic illness and the field of Pediatric psychology has so much to offer.

I also enjoying working with children and teens in a clinical setting. I believe that working with kids facing mental health difficulties at a young age allows them to develop strategies to cope with challenges and ultimately be successful and happy in the future. I learn so much from my clients about resilience and overcoming challenges, and I am so grateful to partner with kids to help them reach their goals.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging part of my work is advocating for mental health research and practice in medical settings.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
My typical day involves attending graduate courses (i.e. Behavior Therapy, Psychometrics, Biological Basis of Behavior), meeting with my research team about our ongoing projects, completing tasks related to my graduate research assistantship, teaching my undergraduate course, and conducting behavior therapy sessions my clients and their families.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
The best advice I can give students is to ask for opportunities. So often, we wait for opportunity to come to us, or we do the very best work at the tasks we are instructed to do, but don’t always advocate for ourselves to take on more responsibility. Denison University prepares us well to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and hard workers. With these skills, you are already ready to navigate the world of research and practical work associated with clinical psychology. All you have to do is ask for the opportunity to start.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Occupational Therapy

Denisonians in health professions: occupational therapy - erin-williamson-300x298.png image #0Erin Williamson ’06

Role: Occupational Therapist (OT)

Graduate School attended: Occupational Therapy M.S. Program at Columbia University, graduated in 2009      

Fun Fact:  I make pottery and am working on setting up my own in-home studio

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I began working with special needs children while still in high school, which I continued throughout college.  Then, during my sophomore year in college, I was fortunate enough to shadow a physical therapist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist at Vanderbilt University.  This introduced me to occupational therapy and I have never looked back. I enjoyed the ability of the OT to integrate daily activities which have meaning/purpose to the patient into treatment and goals for progress.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
As an occupational therapist, we have the unique ability to work in any setting/ venue (examples: hospital, school, consulting in universal design, theater settings, etc.) as well as work with any age group. I have worked in the acute care hospital setting, home health services, skilled nursing facilities and school systems. I have now been an OT for 8 years. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Occupational therapists are often seen as an added service and always work as part of a team. One has to ensure that all professionals we work with understand the legalities and capabilities of an occupational therapist.  You must have strong people/social skills to ensure your patients’ needs are met.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
I primarily work in the school system with elementary to high school special needs students. A typical day entails direct service in individual/small group settings, observations of students in the general education classroom, consulting with teachers and special education staff, IEP meetings with families as well as completing daily notes and evaluations.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Most OT programs require specific pre-requisites and shadowing an OT in the field. I would recommend starting shadowing hours as soon as possible.  As a new therapist entering the field I would recommend first working in the hospital setting.  There you have the opportunity to be exposed to numerous diagnosis/ages which then prepares you for any other area of OT you may wish to pursue.