Student Research Highlight: Savannah Miller
Updated: Mar 28
Name: Savannah Miller
Program: Global Environmental Health
Graduation Date: May 2022
What is your job?
I work at the Hope Clinic of Emory University as a Graduate Research Assistant. Specifically, I work as a clinical research study coordinator on a clinical trial related to immune memory to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Did you use REAL for this position?
I do use REAL for this position! I saw the posting for this job on handshake and applied for it, had an interview and began working in October 2020.
What do you do as a clinical research coordinator?
As a clinical research coordinator I help run a clinical research trial along with some other coordinators and the Principal Investigator of the study. I meet with participants who were previously sick with COVID-19 to gather information about symptoms and also draw blood to be tested for COVID antibodies to determine how long participants have immunity for. We are also monitoring antibody levels in participants who get vaccinated. We hope that this research helps inform vaccination schedules such as needing booster shots of the COVID vaccine and how frequent.
How do you think this position has enhanced your time at Rollins?
I have really enjoyed working in-person and being able to apply my public health knowledge in a clinical setting. I plan on applying to medical school and have been looking for ways to integrate public health and clinical medicine and this job has provided an avenue for me to do so.
What skills have you gained through this position?
An extremely practical skill I have gained through this position is phlebotomy (drawing blood). As previously mentioned, I plan on applying to medical school so when I came to Rollins I knew I wanted to gain more clinical experience. This job offered me phlebotomy training which is very useful in the field of clinical medicine. I have also learned how to better navigate conversations about vaccine hesitancy. Not all of the participants in the study plan on getting vaccinated or are hesitant to do so. I believe learning how to address vaccine hesitancy is a respectful and informed way is crucial to being a good physician and this job has allowed me to improve my health communications skills through practical experience.
What do you like most about this position?
Honestly, I really enjoy the people I work with. They are all very kind and willing to answer any questions I may have. They are very supportive of me and my ambitions. Also, quite a few of my co-workers were more than willing to lend their arms to me to practice my phlebotomy skills on!
Why were you initially drawn to applying for the clinical research coordinator position?
I am planning on applying to medical school so when I came to Rollins I knew I wanted to gain more clinical experience. In fact, I was very unsure about the going to medical school after my MPH when I first arrived at Rollins so I thought having a clinically-oriented job would help me figure out whether or not I would actually enjoy working in that field. I am so glad I did because after having worked at the Hope Clinic for a few months, my ambitions to go to medical school have been solidified and I have become even more passionate about being a physician and public health professional.
What sort of background do you have that equipped you to obtain this position?
Originally, I was hired on to be a member of the community engagement and recruitment team. I was in charge of membership and recruitment for a student organization at my undergraduate institution and already had some research experience related to public health under my belt. After working on the community engagement and recruitment team for a couple months, I was moved to the clinical side of clinical research because my boss knew I was interested in gaining more clinical experience.
How do you think this position will help your career after graduation?
This job has been the exact definition of a hands-on experience. While countless hours can be spent in classrooms learning, I believe that traditional learning in that environment can only go so far. While content is emphasized in the classroom, application of content knowledge is required in the workplace. This job has helped prepare me for the types of interactions I will have with individuals as a physician, something you cannot get in the classroom. Furthermore, through this job I have been able to work on the frontlines of COVID-19 research which I believe will be formative experience for my career in public health going forward.