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Kayla Smith’s APProach to the Medical Field

Kayla Smith’s summer internship with Emory University reaffirmed her passions for the medical field and put her on the right track for medical school.

Smith (Biology, ’15) interned with Dr. Rachel Patzer at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Patzer specializes in kidney transplants, and her team developed an application called, “iChoose Kidney.” Smith worked to train nephrologists—kidney doctors—in how the app worked. The app, which was based on the experiences of thousands of patients, was tested by Smith for feasibility and effectiveness.

“I was amazed at the number of patients with different issues and stories. I was able to make personal connections with people and got to know them individually—something you can’t do in a laboratory,” Smith said.

Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith

One outcome Smith discovered was that the application was not the best tool to use with everyone. “Working with different patients in different scenarios helped show that this app could supplement a doctor’s diagnostic, but not be the sole diagnostic tool,” Smith said.

Smith also participated in a community study called the “Radiant Study” on dialysis patients. “There is a lack of knowledge about dialysis in the community, and this internship opened my eyes to a lack of public knowledge,” Smith said.

“This internship taught me so much more about myself and science. It really was an internship that bridged lab work and the public,” Smith said.

“The University Honors Program has played a pivotal role in grooming me for the sciences. It has really helped me test my boundaries and gave me the background to conquer difficult techniques,” Smith said. Back at Georgia Southern, Smith continues to work with her mentor Dr. Vinoth Sittaramane in the Department of Biology.

After graduation, Smith wants to attend Emory University in the MD/PhD program. “My internship concreted my desire to work with the public. Now that I have ties to Emory, I can’t wait for graduate school.”


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