Global Health at The Bell House, Brooklyn, April 29

Talks on Global Health to benefit the Brooklyn Free Clinic, followed by a night of comedy

BFC What’s Next: Global Health Here at Home

April 29, 2017

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Six medical and public health professionals will share personal narratives about the challenge of providing quality health care in the harsh social and political realities of our time. Follow their quests to serve their patients and their communities from own backyard in Brooklyn to sub-Saharan Africa, the capital of post-earthquake Haiti, Nepal and more. Hear about their confrontations with poverty, natural disasters, racism, mass incarceration, and other systemic barriers to successful health care delivery. Hear how far they’ve come – and how much further we have left to go.

Find more information, including speaker biographies, on our website. All donations and proceeds from the Silent Auction will be donated to The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic, an entirely student-run branch of SUNY Downstate Medical Center that has been providing free primary health care to uninsured people in Brooklyn since 2007.

Where & When

The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn (http://www.thebellhouseny.com)

Saturday, April 29th at 1:00PM, Doors and Silent Auction starting at 12:00PM

F/G trains to 4th Ave/9th St or R train to 9th St

Tickets

Register here. Entry is free, with a request for donations to support our cause (suggested $20).

About The Brooklyn Free Clinic

Donations will go toward The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic (BFC), a student-run FREE clinic offering medical, psychiatric, physical therapy, and social work services at no cost to uninsured patients in New York City. BFC provides preventive screening services and free or low-cost medications and medical referrals for our patients. BFC is entirely staffed by volunteers comprised of students and medical professionals at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

For more information

Contact Katie Lee at fundraising@brooklynfreeclinic.org for inquiries. Find out more about our work at www.brooklynfreeclinic.org.

Hear Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, Duke Chancellor Emeritus, Present AOA Lecture March 21

Downstate alumnus Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, Duke University Chancellor Emeritus and the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, will present “From Brooklyn to Duke’s Chancellor for Health Affairs: Lessons Learned” March 21 as the AOA annual lecture.

The reception and lecture are open to the public, but the AOA awards dinner to follow is by invitation only.

ATA Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society
Annual AOA Reception, Lecture and Awards Dinner
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Deity Events, 368 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 11217

For more information, visit the AOA site, here, or call the Alumni Association-College of Medicine for SUNY Downstate at 718-270-2075.

If you can’t make it in person, make sure we have your correct email address. We’ll include a link to a transcript or filmed version of the lecture in our email newsletter within the next few months.

Ralph Snyderman MD

Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65
From Duke University

Dr. Ralph Snyderman served as Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University and Dean of the School of Medicine from 1989 to July 2004 and led the transition of this excellent medical center into an internationally recognized leader of academic medicine. During his tenure, the medical school and hospital achieved ranking amongst the nation’s best. He oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System, one of the most successful integrated academic health systems in the country, and served as its first President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Snyderman has played a leading role in the conception and development of Personalized Health Care, an evolving model of national health care delivery. He was among the first to envision and articulate the need to move the current focus of health care from the treatment of disease-events to personalized, predictive, preventative, and participatory care that is focused on the patient. In 2012, Dr. Snyderman received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges who referred to him as the “father of personalized medicine.”

Dr. Snyderman has been widely recognized for his contributions to the development of personalized health care, a more rational, effective, and compassionate model of health care.  He was awarded the first Bravewell Leadership Award for outstanding achievements in the field of integrative medicine in 2003. In 2007, he received the Leadership in Personalized Medicine Award from the Personalized Medicine Coalition for his efforts in advancing predictive and targeted therapies on a national scale. In 2008, Dr. Snyderman received Frost & Sullivan’s North American HealthCare Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering spirit and contributions to medicine.  In 2009, he received the Triangle Business Journal’s Healthcare Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Procter & Gamble named Snyderman an honorary member of the Victor Mills Society for his leadership and impact on innovation and he was recognized as a Bioscience Leader Emeriti by the NC Association for Biomedical Research honoring North Carolina research leaders for their outstanding leadership in the transformation of the state through scientific discovery and innovation. In 2012, Dr. Snyderman received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for his leadership in academic medicine and for the conception of personalized medicine. Dr. Snyderman was awarded the North Carolina Life Sciences Leadership Award in February 2014.

Dr. Snyderman has played a prominent role in the leadership of such important national organizations as the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He served as Chair of the AAMC in 2001-2002 and President of AAP in 2003-2004. He chaired the Institute of Medicine’s National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public held in February 2009.

Dr. Snyderman accepted his first faculty appointment at Duke in 1972 and by 1984, he was the Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology. His research contributed to the understanding of how white blood cells respond to chemical signals to mediate host defense or tissue damage and he is internationally recognized for his contributions in inflammation research. In 1987, Snyderman left Duke to join Genentech, Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm, as Senior Vice President for medical research and development. While at Genentech, he led the development and licensing of several major biotechnology therapeutics.

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Report Card for a Curriculum: Inaugural Class Graduates From Downstate Integrated Pathways this May

SUNY Downstate’s medical curriculum took a decade to plan and implement

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Dr. Jeanne Macrae

The SUNY Downstate Class of 2017 will be the first class to graduate from four years of the College of Medicine’s new Integrated Pathways curriculum, launched in August 2013.

“They seem to be doing very well,” said Dr. Jeanne Macrae, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Before we declare victory, we want to see how the Match comes out, but they have certainly given us some very good feedback. They said they’ve felt very competent, clinically. Objectively speaking, their test scores are very good. By all the indicators we have, we expect them to do very well.”

A total of 150 faculty members and students restructured Downstate’s curriculum between 2008 and 2013. One goal was to introduce patient-focused clinical study earlier in the medical school career.

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“It involved blowing up the entire schedule of the first two years and redoing it hour-by-hour with new activities,” said Dr. Macrae, the longtime residency program director for Internal Medicine who served on the curriculum steering committee. She now oversees Downstate’s four-year curriculum, overall.

“We have the patient wrapped as much as we possibly can into the entire scope of the curriculum,” she said.

Medical school traditionally starts with two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical study, as alumni are aware. Now, basic science comes paired with clinical instruction. An overview of body systems early in Foundations of Medicine, for example, is followed by a lesson on how to perform a physical exam.

“Let’s say they’re learning about the knee,” Dr. Macrae said. “They dissect the knee on their cadaver; learn about the radiology of the knee, and how to examine a patient’s knee. They learn how to talk to a patient about problems with the knee, and the diseases that occur in the knee, and doing this all in the same week.”

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Downstate now also starts its small-group, problem-based learning sessions by interviewing a live actor to reflect realistic information gathering. First years who start school in late August are observing physicians in actual clinical environments by October.

Each of six pre-clinical courses ends with a weeklong assessment. Students are tested for medical knowledge and clinical skills, graded on patient interviews and examinations, and on the student’s professionalism and communication skills. If they fail any component, they fail the unit and undergo remediation. The assessments have teeth, Dr. Macrae said.

Downstate began its curricular update almost 10 years ago, with many other US medical schools. Healthcare was changing, and still is. The trend is toward patient-centered care, medical care in teams verses solo practices, more data, and more readily available data.

“There is a whole new set of competencies that doctors need to have,” Dr. Macrae said.

Downstate also needed to comply with changing LCME standards and to make sure students were fully prepared for national tests and licensing exams.

An earlier start to the clinical rotations, now the April of second year, also helps fourth-year students make more informed choices about residency.

“If you really didn’t know what you want to do, come July of fourth year, it is really very hard to arrange enough experiences to make a rational decision about what to do,” Dr. Macrae said. “Plus, in some of the competitive residencies, they weren’t taking people who hadn’t done a rotation in that field at home, plus one in their institution, plus other activities. So, there was felt to be a need for students to have a longer period of time to deal with these residency-related issues.”

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The curriculum divides the four years of medical school into three phases. The first phase, Foundations of Medicine, focuses on basic science. During the second phase, Core Clinical Medicine, students complete paired clinical clerkships over a total of 48 weeks. The third phase, Advanced Clinical Medicine, follows late in the third year, lasts 14 months, and rotates students thorough the full spectrum of sites of care: emergency room, inpatient floors, critical care units, palliative care services and nursing homes. Students also complete five months of elective rotations.

“There is less basic science initially,” said Dr. Macrae. “We end basic science three months sooner than we used to.” However, basic science is also woven back in to the final years of medical school for a complete integration.

Learn more about the Integrated Pathways curriculum on the SUNY Downstate site.


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Giving Tuesday. Support Downstate Medical Students by Giving Today!

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Today is Giving Tuesday, a special day for many nonprofits across the United States.  Please consider making a donation today to support the work of the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate. Hopefully, you have received our most recent request for both your annual dues and for donations to the Alumni Fund in the mail. Please note that any gifts postmarked with December 1, 2015 will be counted in our Giving Tuesday goals. Our hope is to get at least 30 donations from our alumni today.

To see how your donations are making a difference, check out our Facebook page.

You can make your donation by clicking here:

Make a donation online today!

or you can call our office to make a credit card gift over the phone at 718-270-2075.

Thanks for your support,                                             

M. Monica Sweeney, MD ’72, MPH
President, Board of Managers
Alumni Association
College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate

Harold Parnes, MD ’85, FACR
Chair, Board of Trustees
Alumni Fund, Alumni Association
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SUNY Downstate Student Profile: Alisen Huang, COM ’19

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Alisen Huang received funding from the Alumni Association to conduct summer research, and we followed up with her about the experience.


What do you consider your “hometown?”

Elmhurst, Queens


What did your research entail?

We administered questionnaires to stroke patients in the acute setting. The questionnaires assessed fatigue, depression, personality, purpose in life and daytime sleepiness. My summer project evaluated the relationship between purpose in life and daytime sleepiness.


How valuable was this opportunity? In what way?

The opportunity was amazing! I had an awesome, supportive research team and I got to directly interact with patients. The physicians I worked were also great (though approaching them was intimidating for me).

I was able to observe some of the clinical trials that were going on so I got to see how stroke codes are handled and what happens after a patient is enrolled in the trial.

I’m also still working in the lab when I can. Although my summer project was to collect baseline data, the study itself is longitudinal so it’s still ongoing. I help out with getting patient followups and entering data.


What did you learn that might make you a better researcher, and eventually, a better doctor?

I got to work on communication with patients. We learn about it in class and get some practice with it but over the summer, I was really able to feel out what worked or didn’t work with different patients.


How valuable was the funding to you? I know you’re a med student, and probably trying to keep expenses to a minimum.

I really appreciated the funding, it definitely helped with my expenses AND I was able to explore an area of medicine that I was interested in learning more about.


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SUNY Downstate Student Profile: Eileen Harrigan, COM 2018

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Where did you do your undergraduate education and what did you study?
I went to Wesleyan University, and I studied Biology and Neuroscience & Behavior.


Who is/was your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and why?
I’ve enjoyed learning from lots of professors at Downstate, but I have to say that the person who has influenced me most is Dr. Yaacov Anziska, an alumnus of Downstate. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Anziska during the Neurology clerkship and I was so impressed by the way he educates and advocates for his patients. He is one of the most knowledgeable educators I have come across during my time on campus, and he is constantly seeking educational opportunities for his students. His level of clinical expertise is something I really aspire to.


What is your favorite memory so far of your time studying at Downstate?
I think my favorite memory at Downstate has to be when a few classmates and I organized an event to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in medicine. We set out to join students together in a conversation on social responsibility in medicine, and we were unsure of what to expect in response to our campus-wide invitation. We planned for days and days. We organized for days and days. When the time of our event finally arrived, I was so thrilled to see dozens of students, faculty and staff members in attendance to join us. Some students shared their experiences with racism, while several faculty members offered their support and solidarity. It was incredible to witness such deliberate mutual support on our campus, and I am so grateful for that experience. It makes me so proud to know that I am part of a community that is both diverse and passionately dedicated to equality and justice.


What is/will be your specialty?
I expect to pursue a career in Neurology.


How has the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate helped you (scholarships, clubs, events, white-coat ceremony, senior week, research, summer research, technology, healthcare in developing countries elective or other)?
The Alumni Association supports groups like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, which is a student-run clinic at Downstate. With the support of the Alumni Association and others, we offer free and very-low-cost healthcare to our uninsured neighbors in Brooklyn. This clinic serves as a major milestone in our careers. It is often the site of our first doctor-patient relationships, where we can explore both the compassionate and practical sides of the healthcare system. The BFC also provides an environment where we can find mentorship from volunteer attending physicians and build our clinical skills.


Is there anything else that you think Alumni would like to know about you?
I grew up as the youngest of four in a small town on Long Island called Manorville. My dad worked as a plumber and my mom became a policewoman when I was in middle school. I moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Wesleyan and began working in the lab of Eric Nestler at Mount Sinai. There, I studied the neural mechanisms of substance abuse and mood disorders. I became determined to attend Downstate after meeting several Downstate-educated physicians and taking an interest in the public healthcare system. Since my time at Downstate, I’ve been involved in the Student Ethics Society, the Brooklyn Free Clinic, Flu Shot club, and a new student organization called Downstate Dialogues, which a few classmates and I recently created. Through this group, we host conversations and events on campus focused on issues of race, gender, and identity in the medical field. My long-term goal is to use my experiences from Downstate to work towards creating a more equitable healthcare system.


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Student Profile: Ellen Song

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Ellen Song

Class of 2019
From Neighborville, Illinois
Prospective specialties, psychiatry, neurology
Summer research project: Involved Sprague Dawley rats to study 1) recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis (commonly happens in thyroid surgery as an accident), and 2) occlusion of the larynx (laryngospasm) which is a cause of death during epileptic seizures.
Prinicple investigator: Dr. Mark Stewart

Ellen Song was one of several students whose summer research was funded by the Alumni Association-College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate.


How did you choose Downstate?
I was working in New York City after college, and I wanted to go to school in the city, so I applied to all the schools in the city. Downstate is the only state school out of those schools so—

I also really liked that it serves underserved populations. I felt like the atmosphere here, when I interviewed, was very different from the other schools. I feel like I saw a lot of expensive new facilities, which sounds like a good thing, but it also means that’s where the priorities are. I saw a really new cancer hospital, for instance, but when I interviewed at Downstate – it serves a lot of uninsured people. It’s different.

Is that important to you?
Downstate’s hospitals serve a lot of immigrants, and my parents were both immigrants (from Beijing, China). I’d like to work with immigrant populations later in my life. There are a lot of barriers, economic and language just to name two, for immigrants in getting healthcare and it’s definitely a need that people are becoming more aware of.

What were you doing for your year in New York, while you applied to medical schools?
I was in consulting, for business, and it was not for me. It was just a first job out of college. I had studied math and I just went to the job fair. It wasn’t, “Do what you love,” necessarily. It was “Do whatever job you get.” So, I wanted to move back to Chicago, but I was only able to find a job in New York.

But you like New York, now!
I love New York.

What did the summer research project involve?
We were recording vocalization of the rats. This is the first time I’ve ever done animal research.

Ellen said the research, with policies to limit animal suffering, was an encounter with the ethics of research.

You learn a lot more working with animals than you would than if you were doing it on cells. Fortunately, there is also a lot of red tape in place to make sure the animals are treated well, like pain meds after surgery and maintaining a septic field, as you would for humans. It’s good that we’re not just doing research without caring about how the animals feel.

It’s never just science. There are ethics you need to consider when learning, or doing research. I wasn’t as aware of that dimension before this experience. When you’re just reading a textbook, you’re not aware of it.

The experience also illustrated the limitations of research.

Giving the example of rats, while they offer valuable information, they’re still very different from people. I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of things—you’ll think, “We’ll cut the nerve and it won’t recover, but then it does recover.” The research is valuable, but you realize, also, that there are limitations.

What do you look forward to in the new year?
Well, not a lot of time for research.


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SUNY Downstate Student Profile: Demitri Dedousis

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Demitri Dedousis, a third-year SUNY Downstate medical student, presented his preliminary findings, “The Effect of Formative Usage on Summative Grades for Preclinical Medical Students,” Sept. 3 at the Pediatric Medical Student Research Forum at the University of Florida. His travel was funded partially by an Alumni Association travel conference grant, provided by alumni giving.

The project goal was to evaluate whether the use of weekly formative exams by first- and second-year SUNY Downstate medical students has a positive result on student outcomes as measured by unit summative scores. He and classmate Christina Sorrento will work to continue further analysis.

How was this experience valuable?

Attending the Future of Pediatric Practice conference was valuable in many ways. It gave me a chance to present my research and receive critical feedback and suggestions for future directions. I also had the opportunity to network with physicians from all over the country and received career and residency application advice.  Finally it was refreshing to mix with medical students from all over the country who share similar interests.

Did you get any feedback?

Yes. Several physicians and faculty members who looked at my presentation board gave me suggestions for improvement and future directions. They pointed me to papers to read and educational strategies to research. One was kind enough to say “I can see that you will make a great medical educator someday, you are really looking at the foundation of medical education.”

Was it a good conference? How were the other presentations?

The other posters and presentations were of high quality. I was greatly surprised at what many of my peers were able to accomplish while in medical school or residency. There was also great diversity of topics covered, from molecular biology to social science.

Had you presented at a conference before?

I had not, this was a novel experience.

How valuable was the travel funding to you? We know you’re a med student, and probably trying to keep expenses to a minimum.

It was very valuable I would not have been able to attend this conference without Alumni Association support.

Are you a Downstate medical student who has been accepted to present at a conference? Check out the criteria to apply for an alumni travel grant!

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Photos: SUNY Downstate Alumni Wine & Cheese Event Sept. 22

Mark the next one, Dec. 15, 2016, on your calendars!

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Student Jonas Kwok talks to alumnus Stephen Danziger, MD ’68.

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Dan Nicoll, MD ’72, catches up with Louis Cregler, MD ’75

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From left to right, foreground, Bandele Omokoku, MD ’75, Vinette Greenland, MD ’79, Dan Nicoll, MD ’72 and Louis Cregler, MD ’75

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Bandele Omokoku, MD ’75 and Louis Cregler, MD ’75, talk in front of Alumni Auditorium

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From left to right, William Urban, Jr. MD, ’89, Joseph Merlino, MD, MPA, and Paul Pipia, MD, ’89

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Robert Iskowitz, MD ’66, Walter Diamond, and M. Monica Sweeney, MD ’75, Alumni Association president, talk over hor d’ oeuvres.

All SUNY Downstate medical alumni are welcome to the next event. For questions or to RSVP, contact alumni@downstate.edu.

Photos by Alumni Association Executive Director Eric T. Shoen-Ukre, CFRE


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Downstate Student Renee McDonald-Fleming, Public Health, and the Long Way Across the Street

 

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Renee McDonald-Fleming grew up in a gabled brick house on 37th Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn, directly across the street from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She used to ride her bike under the sycamores that dwarf the streetlights, and watch doctors take their smoke breaks by the ambulance bay from her bedroom window.

Twenty years later, Downstate is her medical school, just like she said.

“I’d say, ‘I’m going to be here. When the time comes, I’m going to be a doctor, and I’m going to come to this school,’” Renee said. “I just worked toward it.”

Renee is a third-year Downstate medical student, considering a specialty in OB/GYN, Gastroenterology or Pulmonology. She took the long way across the street, though, so to speak, working two years first in basic science and immunology at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and then as an NIH Health Disparity Fellow. Research led Renee to start contraception education classes at three women’s shelters in southeast Washington DC. Her interest in health led her to medical school.

“During my time at the NIH, I was thinking about how my passion for research fit with my desire to do medicine,” she said. She set up a meeting with Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, Downstate Chair of Urology, before she matriculated.

“I said, ‘I’m going to be a student, and I want to kind of do some public health research,’” Renee said. “That’s how it began. Halfway through the year, I found that the Alumni Association had a program where they funded research, and I applied.”

The summer 2015 research grant, funded by Downstate medical alumni, enabled Renee to work with the Downstate Department of Urology, with Dr. Weiss as advisor. She also collaborated with Dr. Michael Joseph of the School of Public Health, with assistance from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Renee used data from the Brooklyn VA and the National Health Interview Survey database to determine how the diagnoses of cancer in minority men had changed following a 2012 USPSTF recommendation against the use of PSA for prostate cancer screening. With a majority population of minority students, Downstate had a prime population for the study, she said.

“(Dr. Weiss) let me act like I was the principle investigator,” she said. “Being a part of a team and following suit is important, but being a leader and thinking from the ground up, figuring out how to troubleshoot it, to make it work, from beginning to finish, is a good skill set.”

Public health, with its shifting social influences, requires constant investigation.
“You have to think of innovative things, where you can have an impact,” she said. “This is population-based.”

As an NIH fellow, Renee got an idea while listening to the ads for female contraception on her Pandora radio station, targeting her geographic location. “They know the situation,” she said. She researched, contacted the DC government for free female condoms, and spent her afternoons answering questions in shelters.

“I decided I wanted to give the power of contraception to homeless women,” Renee said. “It was my first exposure to health disparities. Then I was like, this is how I can make an impact. This is what put the seed in my heart. In terms of being a physician, this is what I can do.”

Renee had her first vision, for medicine, as a second grader, hearing her friend’s doctor dad talk at a school career day. She had a second vision for her career while working with databases, interpreting the health data of a population. The summer research project offered practical hope that she could combine medicine and public health into one career.
“This was the start,” Renee said. “I feel like this was something I’d always wanted to do and now I have the opportunity to do it. That’s how I see myself being of value as a physician, doing more in a public-health aspect to directly impact my patients.”


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