Shreya Visvanathan ’22 has wanted to be a physician since high school, so when the Collierville, TN, resident came to Rhodes, she become involved with GlobeMed, which is a network of college students who partner with grassroots organizations around the world to improve health equity.
The Rhodes chapter works with the nonprofit AMOS Health and Hope in Nicaragua, which trains health promoters in rural communities to identify and treat illnesses and address root issues that contribute to death and disease, while also strengthening collaborations across systems to facilitate health care for the community.
Visvanathan, who is a chemistry and health equity double major, participated in an AMOS summer internship in 2019, conducting research on maternal and child health and doing a baseline study to assess the needs of the community. “I think that was the first time I realized that I really wanted to work with pregnant populations. I would love to work in primary care or family medicine.”
Her experiences with GlobeMed and AMOS set the stage to explore the topic “The Role of Healthcare Providers on Childbirth Experiences” as a Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies fellow this summer. “My research was heavily influenced by Memphis, which has a high maternal mortality rate but also an amazing network of doulas and other incredible organizations that do the work to combat this problem,” says Visvanathan.
In addition to working on independent research projects during the eight-week Rhodes Institute, fellows explore Memphis through field trips. CHOICES, Memphis’ Center for Reproductive Health, was one of this year’s tour stops. Fellows also make presentations to the Rhodes Institute faculty and students for discussion and submit a final paper.
With some digging though current literature and peer-reviewed articles, Visvanathan was able to find how certain birthing providers manage childbirth expectations and mitigate poor outcomes. She says her research could be replicated on a larger scale to help pregnant individuals make informed decisions when choosing a healthcare provider. “I hope to continue to conduct research in this area and build upon it through my health equity senior seminar project.”
Visvanathan says her Rhodes experience has been greatly impacted by working with Rhodes faculty and through her involvement in student organizations. In addition to serving as the internal co-president of GlobeMed on campus, she is the president of Culture of Consent and recently founded an organization named the Sexual Health and Information Coalition.
Dr. Tait Keller, associate professor of history, served as Visvanathan’s project faculty mentor during the Rhodes Institute. “Working with Dr. Keller this summer was fantastic. He and the rest of the professors at the Rhodes Institute were always very helpful, enthusiastic, and understanding of the challenges that come with doing research in a pandemic,” says Visvanathan. “I can honestly say that every professor I have had at Rhodes has changed the way that I think for the better. I would especially note that my health equity major advisor Dr. Kendra Hotz and chemistry advisor Dr. William Eckenhoff have constantly provided me with the support and knowledge needed throughout my college experience.”