Burke Examining Births in Co-op Research Program

Four master’s and doctoral students are working on research projects with leading local organizations

Four master’s and doctoral students are working on research projects with leading local organizations via the Ohio Means Internships & Co-ops Program.  Ryan C. Burke is one of those students, working with Akron General Health System to study utilization patterns and outcomes related to perinatal health services.

“My main area of focus is Caesarean-section rates, a hot topic nationally in terms of quality of care and health outcomes,” Burke explains.  For several years, Akron General has been adopting new practice recommendations developed by several leading national obstetrics organizations to dramatically lower C-section rates, “and they are continuing that work,” she says.  Burke is analyzing a historical database of deliveries, to help identify additional opportunities for rate improvement.
Mothers who delivery vaginally usually experience a shorter hospital stay, lower infection rates and a quicker recovery, according to Akron General.  In addition, when delivered vaginally, babies have lowered risk of respiratory problems and receive protective microbes that help colonize good intestinal bacteria and promote development of balanced immune systems.
Burke is working with Akron General professionals Justin P. Lavin, Jr., MD, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology; Laura Kukral, director of strategy, planning and market research; and Brian Keaton, chief medical information officer.  Faculty advisors include Melissa Zullo, PhD, and Lynette Phillips, PhD, assistant professors of epidemiology, and Vinay K. Cheruvu, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics.
Burke’s passion for perinatal research stems from past work in the nonprofit sector, as well as being the mother of two young children.  “I’d like to continue my career in maternal and child health research to help improve the health of women and families in our community,” she says.
Burke and the three other Kent State co-op researchers are employed by the university, with student support funded equally by the program and the local partner organization.  The students work 20 hours weekly at the partner’s facilities, while continuing their academic programs.  Each co-op arrangement is expected to be at least one year in duration.
Other local organizations presently involved in the co-op program are GOJO Industries and Summa Health System.  Organizations interested in utilizing a co-op student may contact the college’s Director of Advancement, Margot McGimpsey, at (330) 672-6270.
Funded in part by a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, the state is investing $11 million over two years in co-ops and internships, with matching dollars directed to key industry sectors and functions, including biohealth and research and development.  Some 25 education partners, including Kent State, are creating new or expanded programs to help build skills in demand by Ohio businesses and to better position students for jobs in Ohio after graduation, according to the Board of Regents.
The grants are part of a workforce development strategy to align Ohio’s higher education curriculum with skills in demand from Ohio’s businesses.  The grants will provide Ohio employers with opportunities to benefit from the talents of Ohio’s graduate students, while putting students on track for successful careers in Ohio.  Funding provided through the Ohio Means Internships & Co-op Program comes from Ohio-based casino license fees.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 3:27pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 1:54pm
College of Public Health