Alumni In Class News

April 6, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Biology Alum Talks to Sociology Class about Health Care in Rural Appalachia

A smiling Tiffany Downs

Tiffany Downs ’15   Photo credit: Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

Ohio University alum Tiffany Downs ’15 came to a sociology class last week to talk about “Delivering Medicine in Appalachia.”

Downs is an optician, a cattle farmer, and a medical student at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She covered Appalachian stereotypes, delivering medicine in Appalachia, and social determinants of health with students in the SOC 1000 course.

The class had prepared for Downs’ visit by reading about the post-industrialization economy and the opiate epidemic in Appalachian Ohio through Brian Alexander’s book Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town.

After graduating with her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO, Downs served as a school nursing assistant with AmeriCorps in Athens County, which is where sociology Instructor Babz Jewell ’14 met her.

Jewell remembers many striking anecdotes from the Downs family’s 200-year history in Southeastern Ohio— like an appendix removal on a kitchen table, as well as stories from Downs’ extensive involvement with community health initiatives in Athens County.

“She’s an engaging and empathetic speaker, and my students loved her!” says Jewell.

“I really enjoyed her presentation,” says pre-nursing major Madison Park ’21. “I think her discussion will help me the most when I start my clinicals next year, as I will be placed in hospitals within the Appalachian region. Her stories made me very excited to be apart of helping those who are at a disadvantage when it comes to health care. I am grateful to have the opportunity to one day be apart of this push toward better health care for people who demographically are limited in their resources. Nurses are responsible for caring for all patients, and we also have the responsibility to speak up for our patients and to also answer their questions. I know a lot of people in this area are intimidated by the health-care system, and it is the job of health-care providers to help relieve this stress and to make them feel welcomed and safe.”

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