Read my interview with the Association of American Medical Colleges on why I went into medicine, and my future aspirations for my career. While I want to spend much of my life improving health systems at a macroscopic level, there is nothing more satisfying than caring for an individual patient. This was what I learned in medical school.
I recently published an op-ed in the UK based magazine, The Medicine Maker, discussing the role that social media had in creating the Ebola epidemic. I was particularly interested in the pharmaceutical growth that accompanied the disease in an unprecedented manner. In many ways, a global market for Ebola vaccines was created overnight through the fear of Ebola spreading through the US and Europe– a fear that was in some ways unfounded, similar to the H1N1 flu a few years ago. The full piece is available here.
In what has been a truly humbling experience over the past 4+ years and hundreds of hours, through the collaborative efforts of the Comparative Research Program on Poverty (CROP), our publisher Zed Books, my long time mentor Dr. Thomas Pogge, and my co-editor Dr. Geeta Sodhi, I am delighted to announce the release of my first book in global health, “Protecting the Health of the Poor: Social Movements in the South.” The collection features the writings of several physicians and public health experts from around the world, as well as my fieldwork from Uganda in 2010 during the PEPFAR flatlining crisis. The beauty of this work is that the stories and struggles are from experts who are at the frontline– those who don’t just study these issues but live them every day. Thanks to everyone that has supported me throughout what has been a very important project. I’ve dedicated this work to my students in India from the Perna community who always inspire me through their immense courage.
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: themedalsinitiative.wordpress.com
If you would like to start this project at your medical school, please contact us through the website.
I walk in to work
People’s lives change in seconds
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
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.
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.
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.