Dr. Melinda Merrell, a research assistant professor with the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has been selected by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) to join the 2020 cohort of the organization’s Rural Health Fellows Program. Designed to prepare emerging rural health experts for leadership roles in advancing the health of rural America, the program provides fellows with intensive training.
Although Dr. Merrell is in year one of her first academic appointment (she joined the Arnold School in July of 2019), she has more than a decade of experience in the rural health field. An Alabama native, Dr. Merrell studied biology (bachelor of science) and then health behavior (master of public health) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before moving to South Carolina in 2008.
She spent two years as the network coordinator for three rural counties with the Northeastern Rural Health Network and then joined the South Carolina Office of Rural Health. Over the next nine years, Dr. Merrell held the positions of director of hospital programs, director of quality innovation, and senior program director – often working closely with the Arnold School and many other partners.
In 2014, Dr. Merrell enrolled in the PhD in Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM) program – pursuing her degree in parallel with her work at the Office of Rural Health until her 2019 graduation. The previous collaborations and the opportunity to work with the Rural and Minority Health Research Center (previously known as the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center) made the transition a seamless one.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on March 06