What is your favorite public health experience and why?
“I had the honor of volunteering and serving at a Community Health Center in East Oakland. What started as an opportunity to gain insight into primary care, became an experience that changed the trajectory of my life. The Wellness Center at East Oakland is the epitome of public health marrying medicine. At this special place I was able to work alongside primary care physicians, pharmacists, social workers, dentists & most importantly, community members of East Oakland, to create interventions to help reduce health disparities. One particular moment I’d like to share comes from our Diabetes Management Six-Week Shared Medical Group. Within this group, multiple patients would come together to learn more about different aspects of managing diabetes. From learning the general cause of diabetes to learning how to prepare meals, our patients were able to learn in a setting where they could collaborate with other patients and also receive medical advice from a trusted provider. I remember at the start of this series one of my patients had an extremely high A1C level, after completing six weeks in this group setting, my patient’s next A1C level was many points lower. Additionally, my patient not only changed her lifestyle she also got her whole entire family on board too!! These moments weren’t unique at The East Oakland Wellness Center. We saw them all the time, and it was the reason why I pursued my MPH before attending medical school. I knew that in order to be an effective change agent I needed to simultaneously use Public Health and Medicine to eliminate health disparities!”
What is your proudest public health moment and why?
“My proudest public health moment has to be being chosen to present at the American Public Health Association National Conference, twice! My first ever national conference I attended I was also presenting at it, which was amazing! It felt amazing to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals working together for the same cause. At the time I was in my second-year at my MPH program, and to be surrounded by brilliant individuals from all walks of life really blew my mind. During my time at APHA I knew that my far-fetched dreams of eliminating health disparities and advocating for changes that would improve the health of historically neglected communities, was actually attainable. It was a breath of fresh air, especially when I met physicians who were also on the same wavelength.”
What is your public health story?
“I always knew I wanted to be a physician, but not the kind who just saw a patient for 15 minutes and gave them a “quick fix.” I wanted my patients to reach their maximum health potential. I honestly had not heard of public health until later into my journey. I had graduated undergrad, scribed at an Emergency Department for two years and then found myself in a Post-Baccalaureate program. During this time I found myself a volunteer position at Lifelong Healthcare Community Health Center in East Oakland. Volunteering at East Oakland’s Community Health Center was the most life-changing experience. I remember walking into the clinic as an eager pre-med hoping to gain insight in primary care. After only a couple weeks of volunteering, I was awe-inspired. The clinic partnered with the community of East Oakland to create interventions to combat health disparities. At the time I did not know the public health terminologies, but eventually when I received my MPH a couple years later I realized I was witnessing public health interventions. At this clinic I went on to serve as a Health Advocacy Intern and then Community Health Fellow. Through weekly seminars, I finally learned that what I was doing was primarily public health interventions in order to reduce health disparities; this is where I first learned that a person’s zip code determines how long they would live. It angered me that my patients’ zip code showcased a life expectancy that was 10 years less than a zip code a couple miles away. I knew that I wanted to do more to be able to eliminate these disparities, which drove me to my MPH. I attended George Washington University for my Master of Public Health in Community-Oriented Primary Care. And to this day, the two years I spent on my MPH in Washington, DC were the best two years of my life! I learned the theories behind the interventions I witnessed in East Oakland, and how to improve them and improve community partnerships to create sustainable interventions. Most importantly, my MPH program and my patients from East Oakland continue to help me sustain my humanity as I go through the hurdles of medical school. I am counting down the days until I officially become the Beyoncé of Public Health & Medicine!”
What public health advice would you like to give?
“You don’t have to be a physician, healthcare worker or even have a public health degree to create an impact on public health. You wake up every day with a choice to do good for public health – by driving the speed limit, having your immunizations up to date, wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, etc. Your every day life choices affect public health. I challenge you to actively choose to protect your community, every day!”