Medical School Class of 2020
Entering medical school, though I had a lot to learn (and still do) about the physician I want to become, I knew I felt strongly that I wanted to be firmly connected to and aware of the health of the whole community I would be serving. In particular, underserved community health and preventative health are cornerstones of my goals as a future family medicine physician.
I was thrilled when I discovered the Community Action Research Track, a program that connected me to opportunities to become engaged with community health through lectures, service learning, and research opportunities. However, the thing I found to be the greatest part of the program was the connections I was able to make with faculty invested in community health and in supporting me in my interests to become more involved in community health as well. I went from being interested in community health but not knowing where to begin to connecting with the Dallas community and working toward a publication in my own community health research and pursuing an M.D. with a Distinction in Community Health.
As an officer of and now president of the Family Medicine Interest Group, I also have been able to work with the community medicine program here at UT Southwestern to connect not only myself but my peers to learning and service opportunities in family and community health.
For my research, I have had the opportunity to spend five months through my scholarly activity and community medicine elective months working with the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Teen Pregnancy to address teen pregnancy in at-risk zip codes in Dallas. Through this research, I have been able to delve into the roles of religious leaders and parents in the fight against unintended teen pregnancy and how they are working hard to encourage greater conversation, teaching, and support for teens in church, at home, and at school.
Hearing teen voices
I also have had the fortune of meeting with and talking to teen parents through a photovoice project in which the teens were able to create a media project detailing what they felt were the biggest struggles in their lives and in their communities. This photovoice project has the opportunity to be presented at a film festival at which key investors in the community would be able to attend, giving the teens a loud political voice where they did not feel they had one otherwise.
Being able to connect with my community and actively work with its members to improve their lives through my research has been an invaluable and meaningful experience. In addition, I have enjoyed learning the process of community-based participatory research and exactly how I can academically pursue research while simultaneously engaging with my community. Through this, I have also been able to write and submit a manuscript for publication and present a thesis before I graduate with an M.D. with a Distinction in Community Health.
As an FMIG officer and president, the community health program has been an invaluable partner in connecting myself and other students to family medicine and community health opportunities. They have helped with mentorship for FMIG students, provided access to research opportunities, helped with funding to attend state and national conferences, and have provided student volunteering opportunities in the community.
Building strong foundation
Overall, I am extremely grateful for the UTSW community health program and the resources it has provided me to nurture my interest in pursuing health and connecting with people on a level much greater than that taught and facilitated traditionally in my medical school curriculum. I feel that the program has helped provide a foundation upon which I can grow as a more well-rounded and knowledgeable physician to more wholly and effectively serve my patients.
I hope to be able to take the skills and knowledge I have acquired to continue to research and learn about health on a community level and to advocate for my patients each and every day.
– Amy Luu, Medical School Class of 2020