Nick Adrian, Staff Writer
The JSU Department of Academic Advising held their monthly Tuesday Talk on September 19 on the eleventh floor of the Houston Cole Library. Their subject of interest this month was health sciences and what to expect from a career in that field. The meeting’s speakers were made up of five JSU alumni who have gone on to specialize in various branches of health science. The talk allowed students interested in the field to get a better understanding as to what they should expect after their years of schooling and what it is like in the medical world.
The panelists representing JSU’s past were seated in front of the students at a large table. Dr. Brent Abernathy, D.V.M., graduated in 2002 with a BS in Biology and now works as a veterinarian at Anniston Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Stephen Brackett, MD, who also graduated in 2002 with a BS in Biology, is now the Clinical Director of the Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinic at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. Dr. Stephen Craig, Pharm.D., is another 2002 graduate with a BS in Chemistry who is now a pharmacist at Target in Oxford, Ala. Dr. Christina Rachael Ginn, Pharm.D., graduated in 2011 with a BS in Biology and is a clinical pharmacist at UAB Hospital and Brookwood Baptist Health. Amy Beth Horton, PA-C, graduated in 2008 with a BS in Biology and is a physician’s assistant at Northeast Orthopedic Sports Clinic & Physical Therapy in Gadsden, Ala.
Each panelist talked about his or her schooling experience, from starting at JSU for their undergraduate studies to continuing their education at such universities as UAB or South Alabama. They continued to discuss not only what their jobs were, but what an average day was like, what perks were included and what challenges they faced. Along with this, they offered advice for the prospective students, covering the their time in undergraduate school to the interviewing process to their eventual careers.
“You have to be unique a little bit,” Craig said about his experience interviewing for pharmacy schools. “You have to have a good GPA…do good on the PCAT.”
Ginn shared additional advice regarding the interview process, stating that potential applicants should be the kind of employee that an employer would prefer.
“Would I (the employer) want to work beside them all day? Would I trust that person as a future healthcare provider?” Ginn asked. The answer could determine which student the employer picked, regardless of which one performed better in school.
Abernathy stressed the importance of people skills, and how a student with below average grades and great social skills was more likely to succeed in the long run than a student with exceptional grades and no social skills. Brackett agreed with this advice, saying he often takes on the personality of his patients to give them a more comfortable experience with a relatable doctor: “Just be able to kind of read people,” he suggested.
One inevitable subject that each panelist touched on was student debt. Every speaker offered the same advice, stating that the debt was a rough part of the student experience but they will eventually be able to handle it financially. They stressed that if having a career in health science, or any medical field, was what they really wanted, the debt should not discourage them because working a job that they love is well worth it.
The next Tuesday Talk will be October 3 at 5 p.m. at the library. This talk will feature alumni from the School of Business and Industry.