The MEDALS Initiative: Promoting Creativity in Medical Education

This past weekend, I presented a project I had started in the first year of medical school called the Student Lecture Series at the national AAMC Conference. The idea is simple– most medical students have incredible talents and stories that they never end up sharing once they are accepted to medical school. This is more a problem with our system than any fault of the student. At UCLA, I created a series of lectures that featured students presenting their ideas in a TED-talk format to classmates. The first iteration of this was extremely successful with talks from a professional DJ, a muay thai fighter, a harpist, an opera singer, and many more.

I am now expanding this to become a national project to infuse creativity into medical schools through celebration of student accomplishment. I’ve rebranded the project The MEDALS (Medical Student Achievement Lecture Series) Initiative, and just launched our website at:

If you would like to start this project at your medical school, please contact us through the website.

My Life

I walk in to work

People’s lives change in seconds

Every minute

Hours pass, that feel like days

And days, that feel like hours

A routine that should not be

Another patient that became

Another friend that died

What is next on this list?

Who is next?

I must keep walking many days

Leaving illness and sorrow in rooms alone

I walk out of work

Studying Burn Injuries among Children in Mozambique

Pediatric Surgery Intl Abstract

Our recent work in Maputo, Mozambique on why and how children are getting burned at high rates has just been published in Pediatric Surgery International. We explored the socioeconomic factors– how people live with respect to various cultural considerations, what sorts of environments create risks for injury, how people’s behaviors and access to resources are affecting their health outcomes–and elucidated the understudied root causes of burns in this important and vulnerable population. Our work was conducted in partnership with our colleagues in Maputo at the Central Hospital and the Eduardo Mondlane Medical School. 

The Wards

Ronald Reagan Medical Center

I haven’t had a chance to post in quite a while, mostly because I have started working on the internal medicine service at Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The wards are everything I imagined they would be, and sometimes more. They are intense without hesitation– most days do not end until the sun begins setting, and the mornings are early enough that Westwood traffic is asleep. But no where have I learned more about medicine, and on no service have I connected as closely with my patients. I’ll have several posts and literary pieces from my experience on the wards to be published in the coming months. One piece that I wrote earlier this year, featured by the Gold Humanism Society, is a reflection of some of the short-comings in patient care that I observed on other services. To my great relief, I haven’t felt this way on the medicine wards.

Medicine is More than Science

JGIM Piece

As I’ve written about in several previous posts, I spent the year before medical school in India studying and researching the inner workings of the sex trafficking industry. I always anticipated that to be a well-rounded physician in the future, it would be unarguably important to bring forth a diverse array of experiences to every patient encounter, and I was confident that the time I spent with women who were survivors of trafficking would teach me more about being human than any of my previous journeys. In my essay recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, I talk about how this could not be more true.

Ranking States on the Well-Being of the Undocumented

State Rankings for Immigrant Well-Being

A new report released by the University of California Global Health Institute and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America assesses the extent to which states respect the rights and protect the well-being of undocumented immigrants. This report is the first organized analysis of an immensely important human rights issue in this country, and will hopefully be leveraged to create more equitable policies across the nation.

The Global Health Watch

The Global Health Watch

I have been holding on to an idea for a few years now: that student volunteers in global health are not recognizing their full potential. One of the most important experiences I had in my past work was sitting down with individuals and listening to their stories. Through this, I became passionate about journalism and photography– my first such project resulted in my work on Project Through Their Eyes.

I have since began the development of a non-profit, The Global Health Watch, that will utilize volunteers who work abroad as storytellers for the poor and marginalized. This will serve a dual function of increasing accountability on the work of NGOs in global health, and it will also promote a bidirectional dialogue that is often missing from development projects. I recently presented some of the initial stages of this at the Unite for Sight global health conference at Yale. More to come very soon.

If you are a journalist, documentary filmmaker, or have expertise in global health program evaluation and are interested in becoming involved, please message me.