April 23, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Besmann’s interest in public health began when she worked as a social marketing/training coordinator for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration system of care that served transition-age youth with behavioral health and substance use disorders. She built on these interests when she launched a business creating training materials to help families of children with special needs navigate health, education and insurance systems.
“Creating social marketing and curriculum materials in the fields of mental health and other special needs gave me experience with public health communications,” Besmann says. “I also witnessed many disparities that arise from lack of equity in the distribution of healthcare resources and information.”
The Arnold School’s Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (MPH in HPEB) was a natural fit for learning more about these interests, and Besmann jumped into the program. She was particularly interested in leveraging her background in writing/communication to learn how to best disseminate public health research to various stakeholders (e.g., educators, politicians, funders, journalists).
The past year has been a worldwide experiment in using virtual technology for health, but now comes the hard work of establishing protocols that affect privacy, funding, and infrastructure support.
-Wendy Besmann, Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior 2021
Besmann found a mentor in HPEB professor and chair Daniela Friedman, who conducts research in these areas, as well and many other Arnold School faculty members: Kelli Kenison, Megan Weis, Lee Pearson, Rachel Davis, and Courtney Monroe. She also gained practical/professional experience as a volunteer with the South Carolina SmartState Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles, where she learned about online health intervention.
Besmann, a California native, earned a bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and spent many years as an editor and travel writer for national magazines. She and her husband split their time between Columbia, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee, where they have spent much of their lives and still enjoy their down time on a recreational lake. Six years ago, when Besmann’s husband, Ted, became UofSC’s General Atomics SmartState Chair for Development of Transformational Nuclear Technologies, they moved across the street from his new office.
“Our apartment is an 11-minute walk to the Arnold School’s Public Health Research Center building – nine minutes if you are running late for class,” Besmann says. “I know this from experience.”
After graduating in May, Besmann hopes to continue supporting public health researchers to disseminate their work through drafting grant reports, journal articles, information/policy briefs, etc. She is particularly interested in policy and Medicaid reimbursement issues that affect the use of telemedicine.
“The past year has been a worldwide experiment in using virtual technology for health, but now comes the hard work of establishing protocols that affect privacy, funding, and infrastructure support,” Besmann says. “For example, telemedicine for rural patients is a huge need, but only if those areas have broadband capability in their communities.”