Social Medicine: February 2017

Social medicine: the study of the complex interplay of social, genetic and environmental factors and their collective impacts on health, disease and the practice of medicine. We dedicate our February 2017 theme issue of in-House to exploring health disparities, social justice, and the social determinants of health in modern medicine.

Reproductive Justice: Physician Voices Can Make a Difference
Veronica M. Alvarez, MD, MSEd, obstetrics and gynecology resident at Emory School of Medicine

How You Die: When Patients Are in Prison
Manasa Mouli, MD, internal medicine resident at Tufts University School of Medicine

Unseen Song
Sarah Slocum, MD, psychiatry resident at Medical College of Wisconsin

Eggo Waffles, Empathy, and Caring for Our Veterans
Megha Shankar, MD, internal medicine resident at University of Washington School of Medicine

Partnerships for Health: Leveraging and Centralizing Access to Community Health Centers
Matthew Nelson, DO, MPH, MA, family medicine resident at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

A Day at 34 Haverhill Street Clinic
Melissa Palma, MD, family medicine resident at Greater Lawrence Family Medicine Residency

Substance Abuse and Addiction: Social Medicine in Practice
Mark Kaeppler, MD, cardiology fellow at Medical College of Wisconsin

Doc Like Me
Hillary Newsome, MD, otolaryngology resident at Medical College of Wisconsin

The Paradox of Medical Triumphs
Joseph Lee, MD, MAT, pediatrics resident at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital

Disparity in Medicine: A Reflection by a Minority Physician and Neonatologist
Danisha McCall, MD, neonatology fellow at University of California, Irvine School of Medicine

Restricted Movement and Health in Palestine
Juliana E. Morris, MD, EdM, family medicine resident at University of California San Francisco

Writing Contest Winners

in-House and Kaiser Permanente Northern California Award for Social Medicine

Danisha S. McCall, MD

Danisha S. McCall, MD is an alumnus of Xavier University of Louisiana, graduating magna cum laude and a graduate of the Medical College of Wisconsin. During her time at Xavier University of Louisiana, she experienced the effects of Hurricane Katrina first hand. Evacuating from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, LA. she continued her undergraduate studies for a semester at Louisiana State University while volunteering at the West Baton Rouge Community Center tutoring and mentoring displaced and under privileged high school students.

While in medical school, Dr. McCall helped to establish a Legal and Medical Partnership for Families at three community pediatric outpatient clinics located in underserved underrepresented communities in the Greater Milwaukee area. This experience further strengthened her dedication and commitment to work to find ways to identify and reduce healthcare disparities and advocate for quality healthcare in underserved communities.

As a determined advocate to reduce health care disparities and to provide access to quality health care and education for everyone, Dr. McCall has participated in many programs and committees to advocate to improve diversity in the medical community. As a neonatal-perinatal fellow, Dr. McCall has focused her research focus on the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates at the time of discharge. The goal is to not only identify the disparity, but to identify potential reasons why a disparity exists with hopes to implement specific interventions to help reduce the disparity.

Dr. McCall is originally from Southern California and is the daughter of David McCall and Katholeen McCall-Parry. Her parents instilled in her a deep-rooted sense of service and advocacy.

Social medicine is important because it allows me to step outside of the hospital and into the community. There are several social determinants of health that impact the quality of health care, specifically for children. My commitment to social medicine will hopefully allow me the opportunity to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. Writing is a positive outlet that allows me to express myself and to reflect on my experiences.

in-House Readers’ Choice Award

Melissa Palma, MD

Melissa Palma was born in Worcester, MA and spent her semi-nomadic childhood moving to many other states brought to you by the letter M, such as Missouri and Mississippi, before settling in the rolling cornfields of the Hawkeye State. She came to medical school at the University of Iowa interested in pursuing a primary care field and was an active member of LMSA and SNMA. Melissa graduated with a Service Distinction Track following three years as an executive board member of the University of Iowa Mobile Clinic. She coordinated the student-run free medical clinic provided basic health care and patient education for Spanish-speaking migrant farm workers and undocumented patients in rural Iowa, and also completed a health needs assessment of Burmese refugees in her hometown of Waterloo, IA. She is currently a resident at the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency where she is an active member of the Diversity Committee and liaison to the Mayor’s Health Task Force.

As a physician who practices at a community health center, social medicine is part and parcel of my day-to-day work. Every day I work with colleagues who, like our residency mission statement, “are inspired to develop expertise in family medicine and to dedicate themselves to the care of individuals, families, and communities especially those who are underserved.” The Greater Lawrence Family Health Center continues to have a deep commitment to immigrant communities like Lawrence, MA. I am so thankful to practice medicine at an institution whose core values of social justice echo my own path to medicine as we work towards the common goal of health equity for all our patients.

As physicians, we have entered a profession rooted in service to alleviate suffering, and I consider it our personal and professional duty to utilize our positions of privilege to advocate for our most vulnerable patients. I hope to contribute to discussions to reduce health disparities for our patients and our communities. As I embark on this journey of becoming a physician and progress through various stages of training, I am so heartened to share stories and engage in patient advocacy through writing. These experiences, and many more, have helped me become doctor I always wanted to be.