Working in the emergency department at Seattle Children’s Hospital during the pandemic helped Madeleine Crookshank bring her future into focus.
“The study and prevention of COVID-19 — and seeing how it affected the under-represented communities and social determinants of health — was interesting to me,” she said. “I work in a teaching hospital, so it was a great place to be when all of that started for what I am interested in doing.”
That led Crookshank to enroll in the online Master of Public Health program at Eastern Washington University. She is on track to complete the program in June 2023.
“I always knew I was going to get another degree, but I wasn’t sure what way to go,” she said. “With an undergrad in sociology, the typical route is a Master of Social Work.”
Crookshank, a family advocate case manager since February, knew that a fully online program was the way to go for her return to higher education.
“That was a big thing for me,” she said. “I did all of my undergrad online as well, so I was familiar with those types of programs. The price point is also a huge factor for a lot of people. It is flexible for people working full-time.
“I liked that you would end up being sub-certified in public health while doing the master’s program. It’s an extra step that you don’t have to worry about.”
Since enrolling in the online Master of Public Health program, Crookshank appreciates the support of the EWU faculty members.
“They do a good job of laying out the courses where it’s not hard to follow,” she said. “I don’t think anybody has taken even 24 hours to get back to me when I have a question; it’s usually more like two or three hours.”
Crookshank is from Snohomish, Washington, where a healthcare career path piqued her interest, thanks to her father, Randy.
“He worked at Harborview Medical Center, which is a Level 1 trauma center, when I was younger,” she said. “It’s something that he and I always connected on. I wanted to get a job in healthcare. I started working in the emergency room.”
After earning an associate degree at Everett Community College, Crookshank graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Washington State University in 2020.
“I think of nursing when I think of healthcare,” she said. “I found out about mental health, which isn’t really promoted. Getting to work in an emergency department, you interact with every department. That was very beneficial to me because I got to explore what I found most interesting.”
Since enrolling at EWU, Crookshank has been applying her new knowledge to her role at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“Social determinants of health are a big thing for what I do, specifically with eating disorders,” she said. “I help connect families with resources. The other part is advocating for families and standing up for them where they don’t feel comfortable when providers are lacking that knowledge.
“A lot of times, I use what I learned in the Health Equity and Advocacy class, explaining how families going out of state is not the best option for them, and we need to be more creative in our solution of care and recommendation when they leave.”
Crookshank said Biological and Radiological Incidents is her favorite course so far and that Nicholas Swope is her favorite professor.
“He talked about the applied practicum experience, which is another huge thing with this program,” she said. “You don’t have to do an internship. You can do a project with the school or where you work, which I am doing.
“He was super helpful and very engaging. When we met, it wasn’t just business; he talked to me about what I wanted to ask him and what I am interested in. That was nice.”
Crookshank will be the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree. However, her brother-in-law, Corey Coombs, is an online Master of Business Administration student at EWU.
“That’s also how I found out about the public health program,” she said. “He started his degree in winter. I was hoping to walk at commencement with him, but I am graduating before him.
“My sister, Annie, recommended I get a Master of Public Health a year before I decided to do it. My grandparents are also proud and excited. My friends are not shocked I went back.”
Now that Crookshank is more than a year into the program, she has narrowed down the best way for her to take advantage of the flexibility of the online format.
“The main thing is organization — that’s important in an online program,” she said. “Don’t procrastinate. I get my homework done before the weekend, which gives me time to enjoy the weekend and not stress about anything.”
While Crookshank works toward completing the program, she is eager to see where a master’s degree will take her career, while she enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors in her free time.
“I am exploring more of what the degree can do, but I am hoping to go into epidemiology,” she said. “Doing cancer epidemiology research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at Seattle Children’s would be cool.
“The master’s degree is going to open a lot of different options for me. This is a great field to go into.”
Learn more about EWU’s online Master of Public Health program.