Public health student finds purpose with emergency department research


Ashleigh Anderson’s research has not only won her an award, but it has also given her purpose.

Ashleigh Anderson, public health major, C/O 2018

Anderson is a senior at Wayne State, studying public health. With the help of Dr. Martina Caldwell, an emergency medicine physician at Henry Ford Hopsital, she is researching the use of emergency departments (ED) for prenatal care and how it affects birth outcomes.

Due to a lack of resources for women, lack of contraceptive education, not having means to go to the OBGYN and financial aspects, Anderson and Caldwell realized that some women go to the ED for their prenatal care. Anderson says they want to make sure that women who come to the ED for prenatal care get what they need. “If you’re able to help mothers have better birth outcomes, you’re helping the next generation have better lives.”

Anderson started as a pre-nursing student at WSU and learned about the public health program during her sophomore year. “The program gave me a sense of greater purpose as it taught me to view health care as a preventative measure, helping to eliminate disparities and treat communities and populations rather than just individuals,” says Anderson. “I’ve always wanted to be a neonatal nurse practitioner.”

During the summer of 2017, she joined the McNair Scholars program, which offers support to first-generation college students in their research. Her faculty advisor, Dr. Dawn Misra, connected her with Caldwell for this opportunity.

After presenting her research at the 2017 UROP Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects Conference, Anderson says she was extremely surprised to learn that she won an award for having one of the top 10 research projects. “I expected the ‘hard sciences’ to win because Wayne State is such a premier medical institution,” says Anderson. “It was cool that I got the attention of a lot of people.”

As she applies for nursing school, Anderson is completing her capstone project for her major. This project consists of researching literature about prenatal care in the ED and discussing how nursing and public health are interdisciplinary. “I have the background and I want to bring it to the clinical space,” says Anderson. “I’m excited to be a part of this."

Written by Alexandra Leroux, marketing and communications associate

Back to listing