Neil Horsley was pursuing his Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Kentucky when he joined the state health department’s Immunization Program as a Pathways to Practice Scholar. During his time at the health department, Neil worked on several projects in infectious disease and epidemiology. One of the most substantial projects Neil completed was a comprehensive literature review and data analysis of area influenza deaths and the potential correlation between spikes in influenza mortality and extremely cold ambient temperatures. To investigate this potential correlation, Neil compiled and analyzed data from the National Climatic Data Center and the Kentucky Mortality Data Management System. The findings of his report can be used to further the mission of the Program and may even by applied to policy that aims to improve health outcomes in the region. When reflecting on the project, Neil said that the, “freedom to dive as deeply into the data as possible…reaffirmed my passion for public health.”
Neil continued his research into respiratory disease mortality for his Graduate Capstone Project. His capstone, “Dusty Occupations and Pulmonary Obstruction in Kentucky: A Proportionate Mortality Analysis,” utilized death certificate data provided by the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics to conduct a regression analysis on the relationship between having worked in a “dusty” occupation (i.e. one in which there is considerable airborne particulate exposure) and increased mortality rates from pulmonary diseases. The findings of his research were presented at the 2017 Southern Occupational Network Regional Conference in April of 2017.
Since completing his field placement, Neil has earned his MPH and is now attending the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. Neil notes that his field experience fueled his “desire to utilize public health when practicing as a physician.” At the College of Medicine, Neil is in the Rural Physician Leadership Program, which emphasizes rural and community medicine in underserved populations.