Student view:

Calla Michalak: Where I’ve been, where I’m going

March 21, 2018

Calla Michalak is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in bioethics and health promotions; she is also a member of the Social Science Scholars Program

When I got to Michigan State my freshman year, I knew that I was interested in health care. Part of the reason that I chose to come to MSU in the first place was because our cohort’s focus was on global health care in a social science context. Spending time learning about methods of healthcare delivery around the world, as well as different policies regarding health insurance helped to affirm my desire to become a healthcare professional.

Beyond the classroom and study abroad, I was also lucky enough to gain valuable internship experiences after both my sophomore and junior years of study. After my sophomore year, I was able to spend two months working with community health organizations in Riobamba, Ecuador. I spent time both in a hospital setting, working with nurses and observing operations, and riding public buses into the mountains to visit patients in their own homes who could not travel.

The following summer, I spent two months working with nurse practitioners in Hyden, Kentucky through Frontier Nursing University’s Courier Program. I was given the opportunity to shadow a nurse practitioner one-on-one in a primary care setting and was also able to work and learn within a hospice setting.

Both of these experiences have profoundly shaped my future career goals. While in Ecuador, I was made aware of some of the glaring inequalities that are present in healthcare settings. Initially, this led me to believe that I would be able to help the greatest number of people if I chose to work abroad as a healthcare professional. My time in Kentucky, as well as the excellent mentorship that I received from both Dr. Waller and my colleagues in Hyden, helped me to realize that I could provide just as much help, if not more, if I worked domestically.

Following the completion of my B.S. in psychology in May, I will be entering a 2.5 year Accelerated BSN + MSN combined program at Emory University. I will be studying to become a family nurse practitioner, potentially with an additional focus on women’s health. I have also accepted one of five palliative care fellowships offered to Emory students entering this program annually.

Once I have finished my program, I hope to spend the bulk of my career working in medically underserved communities in the United States. The Scholars program and the guidance of Jenn Arbogast and Dr. Waller have been invaluable in helping me define and achieve my career goals.

About Calla's accomplishments, the Social Science Scholars Program director, John Waller, commented: "Calla has made the absolute most of her education here at MSU. On campus, she has excelled in her classes, carried out original research and volunteered her time to the Student Health Advisory Council since 2015. But it is what she has done off-campus that has most deeply impressed me and my colleagues. On two occasions, in rural Equador and Kentucky, she has devoted herself to meeting the medical needs of underserved populations in often challenging conditions. In doing so, she has demonstrated exceptional maturity, a true sense of vocation and has discovered that nursing really is the profession for her. She is destined for an admirable career, and we wish all the best as she heads off to Emory University to complete her graduate nursing degree."