University of Minnesota Medical School
1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
My path to medicine began as an interpreter at a safety net clinic during college where I saw entire populations left behind by our profit-hungry healthcare system. I eventually chose a career in medicine for the potential to both mitigate these disparities and use the platform to advocate on behalf of my future patients.
Being an advocate is how I reconcile my desire to help others with the reality that the healthcare system often propagates harm, rather than healing. It means acknowledging the powerful role organized medicine has played in stifling meaningful healthcare reforms over the last century, while working to foster a new generation of community-centered physician advocates.
2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
I’ve advocated for expansions in healthcare access—namely, single-payer healthcare. I’ve also worked with my fellow medical students to promote civic engagement, connecting the dots between the ballot box and the changes we as students want to see implemented in our healthcare system. At the moment, I am working with colleagues to draw attention to consolidation in the healthcare industry and its downstream impact on patients, academic institutions, and learners.
3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
While the voices of physicians are powerful, it’s important to practice humility and recognize that we are just one part of larger coalitions. For sustainable advocacy, we must center the work of long-standing organizations that have spent years building the groundwork for positive change.
That said, being a medical student comes with a tremendous platform — and responsibility — to advocate for our future patients. Even being in the room at a committee hearing or press conference can have an impact, simply by showing that we as medical students are paying attention and staying engaged (Physicians' Day at the Capitol is a great place to start!). We will soon become part of the healthcare system, and we want to see it do better for patients and physicians–so let's make our voices heard.