Medical School Class of 2020
The Community Health program has been the biggest influence during medical school in shaping me into the physician I plan to be. When I came to UT Southwestern, I knew I had a strong interest in public health, social justice, and community health, and I joined the M.D./M.P.H. program. However, I was not sure how these passions fit into the context of clinical medicine. This program showed me not only how I can integrate these interests into my medical career, but also how amazing family medicine is as a specialty.
The summer after MS1 year, I participated in the Community Health Fellowship Program for my M.P.H. practicum project. I had the opportunity to work with a local nonprofit, the North Texas Alliance to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy in Teens (NTARUPT), to create a cost estimate of adolescent childbearing in the local community. Working with NTARUPT was an interesting experience, as I learned more about the role and impact of community organizations that focus on public health.
I also learned a lot about community-based participatory research (CBPR), which is a model that considers the needs and wants of community stakeholders in every step of the research process. My project was featured in a KERA News article, and I traveled to Montreal, Quebec, to present a poster at the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) conference that year.
I also was a part of the Community Health track for scholarly activity. I worked with Dr. May Lau to analyze factors associated with child marriage in the U.S., and presented this research at the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) conference in Washington, D.C. This was a somber topic of research, but also an exciting opportunity to shed light on a legal (but ethically questionable) practice that many people are unaware of in the United States.
With Dr. Lau, I also am working on a project to assess health professional student (medical, PA, nutrition) knowledge, attitude, and skill toward transgender patients. This is particularly exciting research because transgender people are an underserved and marginalized population in health care, and this assessment will hopefully lead to interventions to improve the abilities of future providers to care for all patients regardless of gender identity.
Opportunities go beyond medical school
Because many of the projects I was involved in already fulfilled many of the requirements, I joined the Community Action Research Track (CART). This program helped me reflect on my service-learning volunteer experiences and provided various educational opportunities about community medicine that I plan to take with me beyond medical school.
These experiences solidified my interest in primary care and community medicine and inspired by the amazing family medicine faculty that I had met in medical school, I decided that I wanted to become a family physician myself. After third year, I became the Social Media Director for the Family Medicine Interest Group. I am currently working on revamping our social media pages to share more about how public health and social justice go hand in hand with the mission of primary care.
Because FM is an often-misunderstood specialty, I also have plans to create profiles of students going into FM for our social media pages. With a fellow FMIG officer, I also am working on launching the first UTSW FMIG podcast to showcase some of the wonderful family medicine faculty and community physicians who are doing amazing things to make the world a better place.
I honestly believe that primary care is the future, and I’m excited to work with my fellow future family docs on all of this and more to drive forward the primary care revolution!
– Anita Vasudevan, Medical School Class of 2020