Summer Scholars: Meet Wes Henderson

The Medical Student Summer Research Scholars (MSSRS) Program is a summer research opportunity open to rising MS-II students only. The project period is 7 weeks during the summer, and students are expected to devote at least 6 full weeks to the project. Students attend weekly work-in-progress sessions and provide the opportunity for MSSRS participants to present their work to student peers.  A final report is presented in the form of a poster or oral presentation at a local, regional, or national meeting. The Interprofessional Education Symposium held each spring at Campbell University is an opportunity to present, and all MSSRS participants are encouraged to present a poster at the event.

Over the next week, we will feature some 2020 Summer Scholars while the 2021 scholars begin their research experiences.

Name: Wes Henderson

Hometown:  Greensboro, North Carolina

Education and Experience:  Bachelor of Science in Zoology, NC State University, and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences here at Campbell.  Before attending Campbell, I worked for several years as a nursing assistant in rehabilitation facilities and UNC Hospital.

Tell us about your MSSRS Research:  In June, I worked with Dr. Hinkelman and Dr. Dogbey on an ongoing project examining determinants and gravity of vaccine hesitancy among rural populations of NC with the highest shortage of primary care provisions.  My role involved reviewing the literature on vaccine hesitancy in rural populations in the prospect of contributing to the design and proposal of the next survey study.

student with research poster

What drew me to this project is my passion for primary care and preventative medicine as well as the chance to better inform strategies to improve vaccine uptake. Despite the success of vaccines, vaccine hesitancy has been linked to outbreaks of disease, and has been marked by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten threats to human health – (read here in their report).

While much research is still needed to quantify and understand vaccine hesitancy in rural populations of the United States, my review of recent literature suggests that issues of confidence and complacency, rather than issues of convenience, contributing to rural vaccine hesitancy may be more apparent rurally. Access to educational resources that are culturally relevant, keeping open collaboration between researchers and between health systems and the public, creating non-judgmental spaces for conversation about vaccine health, and limiting the spread of misinformation – whether through social media or public health education events – may be solutions worth considering to reduce hesitancy broadly.

Advice for MS-I’s and other medical students:  For any first years reading my post, I would like to extend my congratulations on where you stand and encourage your determination to make a positive influence on the world. Find inspiration and strength in your personal call to medicine and always consider your altruism and efforts significant. There will be a very tough road ahead – balancing your health and happiness with obligations and studying will be difficult, so do not be afraid to ask for advice or resources to succeed.  Preventing burn-out is easier than treating it.

Always use your Fridays to catch up on personal time and LEARNING material. For your board prep, start early in the summer of your first year, using First Aid 2021, Kaplan videos (for basic sciences) and Boards and Beyond videos, and Truelearn questions to prep for your board exams. Follow along in First Aid with each semester and do questions on that material to solidify high-yield information. Work together to make your own study materials when you cannot find anything adequate – this may seem like a lot to do at the time, but you will thank yourself later when you have to come back to it in your second year to review!