Haley Cothern

Haley Cothern

Public health to me is primary prevention as its the science and practice of improving the health of all communities. This field focuses on populations rather than at an individual level.

What does public health mean to you?

Public health to me is primary prevention as its the science and practice of improving the health of all communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention, and the detection and control of infectious diseases. This field focuses on populations rather than at an individual level, which makes the field not only unique, but also significant.

Why did you choose to study public health at WVU?

I never really discovered public health; the profession found me. During my experience as an emergency department scribe, I quickly realized the clinical setting was not for me. Although I have always wanted to care for individuals and assist in improving my community, I discovered there are other ways of improving the quality and delivery of patient care, through health administration. Moreover, enhancing public health initiatives truly interests me as it connects everything and everyone throughout various fields.

Have you had any particular professors or faculty members who have made an impact on you while at WVU? If so, how?

Dr. Erik Carlton has had a profound impact on me and my studies during my time here at the School of Public Health. Since taking Dr. Carlton's Intro to Health Administration course during my undergrad career, he has not only believed in me but also has challenged me. He has provided me with insights, assisted in my administrative fellowship journey, and has always been there to support me. Indeed, Dr. Carlton has truly become an invaluable mentor for me and will continue to be in my future career.

To know, be a student and a graduate assistant of Dr. Steve Davis has been some of my favorite moments while being in the School of Public Health. Dr. Davis is a professor and mentor who will do anything for his students and wants them to succeed in their endeavors. I’m grateful for his mentorship, support and dedication to my success that he has provided me.

Last but not least, Dr. France Weaver has had a lasting impact on me throughout my time in the Master of Health Administration program. Dr. Weaver is not only an amazing professor but also a mentor who has provided essential support in navigating a graduate degree and next steps after graduation. Additionally, she has broadened my lens in terms of becoming a transformational and servant leader. She encouraged, guided and supported me every step of the way and for that I'm grateful!

Tell us about your field placement experience or other hands-on experiences.

In between the first and second year of the Master of Health Administration program, landing a summer internship is the primary goal, and I was fortunate to be at UPMC East and UPMC McKeesport, two community hospitals within the greater UPMC health system. As I reported to the vice president of operations and chief executive officer, I was able to be involved in numerous projects such as facilitating with the development of opening a wound care clinic and launching a human resource program, offering employees professional development and growth opportunities within the organization.

What would you tell prospective students about WVU and the School of Public Health?

WVU is a large university; however, as a student in the School of Public Health you quickly feel a sense of belonging within a tight-knit community. The faculty and staff provide an intimate educational setting and support to their students as we tackle critical public health issues that many are facing, especially in West Virginia and throughout the Appalachian region. Smaller class sizes and experienced faculty mentors prepare students for a variety of careers in the public health field.

What advice would you give to your freshman self?

Seek every opportunity and experience possible! Becoming well-educated and knowledgeable in your interests and potential career will have long-term benefits. Get involved in student organizations, reach out to professors and faculty, and make connections with those who can help you reach your future goals.

How have your experiences in the School of Public Health helped prepare you for your future?

The relationships built with faculty and staff in the School of Public Health have allowed me to build a better understanding for why public health is omnipresent in today’s world. Through their insights and course concepts, I feel that my experiences and knowledge thus far will prepare me to lead healthcare systems of the future.

What do you plan to do upon completion of your degree?

Upon completion of my degree, I have accepted the WVU Medicine administrative fellowship position, allowing me to learn from various leaders during core rotations, assigned projects and line management experience. I look forward to joining the team!

Any additional involvement in activities or comments about the program?

Delta Omega Gamma Mu Honorary Society is a student organization that I was involved in for three years within a leadership capacity with starting as the vice president of communications and ending in the president role. I loved being a part of such an amazing group of student leaders, all collaborating toward offering community service, social engagement, scholarship and outreach events to students, faculty, staff and alumni. This organization has fostered numerous memories, connections and collaborations that will always be a highlight of my time in the School of Public Health. I also served as the student representative for the American College of Healthcare Executives WV Chapter, student representative of the WVU School of Public Health Executive Council and Dean's Ambassador of the WVU School of Public Health.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time in WVU School of Public Health?

One of my favorite memories during my time in the Master of Health Administration program was competing in the Meritus Health case competition with my two teammates, Lydia Ferrell and Megan Townsend. This opportunity challenged me to think both critically and strategically about a healthcare issue that the hospital was facing. For our proposal, we were awarded second place which was exciting! I'm grateful for the support Dr. France Weaver and Dr. Heather Henderson provided us through our proposal development. What a great experience!