April 25, 2022 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Always an extrovert, Chantal LaFlamme knew she wanted to work with and help people, but she wasn’t sure what shape her future career would take. As an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, she participated in exercise science research and volunteered in the hospice field – prompting her to take an introduction to public health course.
“I quickly learned that public health was unquestionably the way for me to combine my passion for health and desire to help others,” LaFlamme says. “I majored in health promotion, and I was most interested in my health policy and health systems courses.”
As she approached senior year, the Woodstock, Georgia resident began looking for a Master of Public Health (MPH) program that offered hands-on learning experiences and a diverse range of courses. UofSC’s MPH in Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM) program stood out to LaFlamme because of the varied health policy courses it offered. Speaking with the program’s director, Kelli Kenison, confirmed that the Arnold School was a tight-knit community – another quality important to LaFlamme.
Working closely with exercise science faculty Glenn Weaver and Bridget Armstrong, LaFlamme served as a graduate research assistant for the Arnold Childhood Obesity Initiative. The second year of the program saw LaFlamme managing communications activities as a graduate assistant with the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare.
“Dr. Megan Weis has served as an important professional role model to me and continuously offers me guidance and expertise,” LaFlamme says of the Center’s director for community engagement, who is also an Arnold School affiliate. “I also admire the innovative approaches of our director, Dr. Kevin Bennett, in addressing the unique needs of our state.”
To wrap up her program, LaFlamme completed her practicum with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’ Diabetes Free South Carolina program, where she worked with supervisor Zack King to analyze existing policies related to nutrition reimbursement strategies to address health disparities and reduce food insecurity. This initiative, Food is Medicine, aims to improve coordination among South Carolina organizations working on health eating initiatives in healthcare settings. She also developed policy recommendations for the program’s screening and reimbursement practices.
In recognition for her efforts LaFlamme received a fellowship from her department’s Michael D. Jarrett Scholarship Fund. On the side, LaFlamme and fellow MPH student, Bella Alonso, co-led an initiative to educate and promote the use of K-N95 masks at the Arnold School. As a newly minted U.S. citizen (as of last year), she also enjoys lending her advocacy skills to political campaigns.
Following her May graduation, LaFlamme will serve as project manager for Epic in Madison, Wisconsin. She is particularly interested in helping the company use its software to improve workflow, patient safety and quality of care as well as identify health issues and address health disparities. Long term, she would like to be in a position to improve the accessibility and delivery of the U.S. healthcare system.