Health care: Internship, education helps student make a difference

June 20, 2016

Tim McCaffery
To make an impact in his community, Tim McCaffery collects research for grants to get community health workers into Detroit-area emergency rooms. And he assists in developing diabetes prevention programs.

Through his internship at Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), the senior majoring in health policy studies works hard to positively affect his Detroit and Metro Detroit communities.

But, even with all of the lives the GDAHC programs have touched, McCaffery said that the work he has done during his two internships there has had the biggest impact on one person in particular—himself.

Switching his career path mid-life, McCaffery, 54, said he’s found a greater purpose.

He knew he wanted to help people, but he wasn’t sure how—until he saw the College of Education, Health, and Human Services’ health policy studies program, an interdisciplinary applied approach to the health professions field.

Nearly 25 years ago, McCaffery said he told his wife that he wanted be a University of Michigan student. But with long hours working at the family bar and grill that he had recently acquired, McCaffery wasn’t sure how to find the time.

Then he decided to make the time. He sold the bar and used the money to start his college career.

“I love people. But one day it hit me. With greasy burgers and serving alcohol, I wasn’t helping people like I thought I was. I needed to make a positive impact. There needed to be changes,” said McCaffery, who also quit smoking and started eating mindfully. “The university has helped me find how I can make a difference.”

McCaffery said he wanted to work in an environment where he was helping improve people’s health on a holistic level.

“When I saw there was a major at UM-Dearborn that focused on the health field and caring for people, but also looked at other factors like ethics and economics, I thought, ‘That’s it!’”

During his educational journey, McCaffery said he’s gotten much more than he could have anticipated.

“I expected to get a great education in a classroom. But the professors here have gone beyond. One even sent me the information about the GDAHC internship because she thought it would be right for me,” he said. “She was right.”

Health and Human Services Associate Professor Julie Roddy said with McCaffery’s work ethic and drive, she knew he’d be a good fit.

“And after the first year he did with the GDAHC, they called him to come back. They love him,” she said. “He’s not only a dedicated student, he’s also a dedicated professional who’s focused on making lives better.”

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