COPH alum Tiffany Vesely serves those who serve

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Tiffany Vesely is a two-time Bull.

She received her bachelor’s degree in political science (with a minor in sociology) from USF in 2007. In 2009, she earned her master’s from the USF College of Public Health, focusing on global health practice.

Originally a chemistry major with an interest in clinical pharmacology, Vesely switched gears and settled into studying political theory. While one leans heavily on science and the other liberal arts, Vesely sees the combination as the perfect training ground for a career in public health.

“I saw the connections between political and social structures and their implications for the health of the people,” she said. “This led very naturally to the study of public health.”

Fast forward nine years and today Vesely—who is also a two-time Gator, having received both a bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from the University of Florida after graduating from the COPH—is a clinical research nurse practitioner at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, Md.

Tiffany Vesely, MPH, MSN. (Photo courtesy of Vesely)

There, she works as a medical investigator in the area of sleep science as it relates to the maintenance and enhancement of cognitive performance for military service members. Vesely is responsible for determining medical eligibility of study participants and for their well-being while they are enrolled in the studies. She also works as a clinical research coordinator and facilitates the execution of study protocols.

Vesely was drawn to WRAIR, in part, because of the work her husband, Dr. Brian Vesely, an Army microbiologist and fellow COPH alum, and his colleagues were doing.

“I saw how much they were doing to address infectious diseases and brain health among our service members and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I love the breadth and flexibility of my position. I have the opportunity to work with researchers with backgrounds in neurology, sleep medicine, neuroscience and psychiatry. Each study is different, with its own challenges, which keeps things interesting.”

Research was actually Vesely’s first foray into the field of public health. She interned as a research assistant with the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture in Clearwater while at the COPH.

It’s work she takes great pride in.

Vesely completed her MPH special project on understanding the health needs of newly settled Iraqi refugees. She also worked closely with the Burmese refugee population in Tampa and helped coordinate health fairs and clinical services for this group.

“As a nurse practitioner, much of my experience has been in community and refugee health,” commented Vesely, who has also held nursing positions at St. Joseph’s Hospital (in Tampa), Tampa Family Health Centers and CCI Health & Wellness Services in Silver Spring. “My MPH in global health practice prepared me to work with these special populations with greater understanding and compassion, which ultimately allowed me to be more effective than if I had only studied nursing. I would encourage all clinicians interested in working with the medically underserved to consider studying public health.”

Next stop for Vesely? Thailand, where her husband will be stationed. “I plan to take some time to explore Southeast Asia and learn about the culture—maybe even pick up a little Thai. The nurse practitioner profession isn’t recognized in the same way there, so I am pursuing work in clinical research in Bangkok and am excited for new opportunities.”

Alumni Fast Five

 What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

Oh, so many things!

Where could we find you on the weekend?

Hiking around Maryland or trying a new cooking recipe.

What was the last book you read?

“Bangkok 8,” by John Burdett.

What superpower would you like to have?

To fly.

What is your all-time favorite movie?

I love movies too much to name just one!

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health