Rachael Blackmon (MS/Biomed '18)
As an undergraduate student studying biology at York College, Rachael Blackmon’s adviser told her about the academic programs at PCOM. As she researched more about the College, she found that the Biomedical Sciences program appealed to her love of science. But it was her visit to an open house event that solidified her decision to apply.
“I got to hear from current students about the program, and it sounded in line with everything I was looking for,” said Ms. Blackmon. “There was a real sense of community rather than competition, and the faculty looked at you as a person, not just the sum of your grades.”
Ms. Blackmon came into the Biomedical Sciences program and chose the public health track as her course of study. She connected with Kerin Claeson, PhD, associate professor, anatomy, on a project to conduct data analysis for the Student Run Homeless Clinic project, which works to provide health services and education to homeless women at shelters in Philadelphia.
“I had never considered the barriers that homeless women face when trying to access care,” she said. “So much of the existing literature in this area focuses on explaining what those barriers are, but doesn’t really address how to remove them. By meeting the women where they are, we’re working to remove those barriers and increase motivation to seek care.”
Ms. Blackmon says things like transportation, economics and even the stigma surrounding homelessness can prevent the women she sees from getting treatment. She, Dr. Claeson and other students are working to conduct an analysis of attitudes among the women around those barriers, and to identify avenues to advocate for the women.
“We want to give them the motivation and the power to take a more active role in their health, and see the options that are available to them,” she said.
Ms. Blackmon will begin the Doctor of Osteopathic (DO) program this fall, and she said her work in the homeless shelter clinics has given her a unique perspective into patient care.
“The field of medicine needs to extend beyond the four walls of hospitals and doctors’ offices and reach into the community, in order to be the most effective,” she said.
She also notes that the compassionate care found in medicine appeals to her and stems from her childhood experiences.
“Both my parents are nurses, and I watched them take care of both sets of grandparents when I was a child,” she said. “That level of nurturing and care that I saw during that time really stuck with me. I think that often in medicine, that level is lacking. The osteopathic philosophy emphasizes compassionate care, and it reflects my own values.”
As she looks toward her future, Ms. Blackmon is excited to learn more about osteopathic medicine and discover ways she can take her passion for medicine and health into the community.
“I’m excited to expand my knowledge, find my niche in the medical world and give back to the community,” she said.