Sunday, November 2, 2008

Idea of Community

So when I was applying to residency, on my many interviews, I was often asked "what do you want your career to look like after residency?"

And my answer had to do with community. I described a situation in where I was working in an inner city community, where my medical practice was just one part of creating healthy community. That it would interact and work with other community organizations that promoted education, infrastructure reform, putting opportunities for healthy foods in the city, mentoring, etc. That I think promoting health is not just the job of the doctor, but that it is the job of the community, and only after you have multiple different aspects of community working together will you have a truly healthy population. You can have the best medical care in the world, but if you are a kid who can only get junk food, no produce (because you only have corner stores nearby), and you can't play outside because of the frequency of driveby shootings (all things that were prevalent in my experience in Detroit), you can't have a healthy kid. I described being well integrated into the community, being involved above the medicine level, and knowing my patients and their issues really well, that we would have long term relationships.

And I didn't say all these things because I thought it was a "good answer," but because I really believe them. It was so cool to work in Detroit for healthcare, and then to be involved in making community gardens out of vacant lots, so kids could grow vegetables and learn about health eating...To work with liberal new art galleries on youth art education and expression, giving kids and outlet and an activity other than hanging out on the streets...To buy my coffee and bread from a local bakery that is all about "green" business, as well as hiring local homeless people to work for them... To live in the city and interact with neighbors who taught me "how it was." ANd there were so many other possibilties for working in the community.

I find a lot that I dream, envision things, and then god puts opportunities in my path to realize this. Since being in SD, the first year I was mostly just consumed with medicine and residency and trying to survive. Now, God has given me some new opportunities to connect medicine with the world and community around me. I get to work with a girl's youth group and participate in mentorship for inner city youth, which is something I am really passionate about. One of the girls really wants to be a doctor, and has a very interesting perspective on health in the inner city after seeing her mom struggle with Diabetes, one of the biggest health problems that plagues the inner city. So she has been helping me with some health educaiton materials I have been putting together for my patients in my inner city clinic, which has been helping me to give better care to uninsured patients, which is another passion of mine. It is cool to see how God is connecting the dots, allowing me to realize the dreams I have. And without too much effort from myself, the pieces have just been falling together. I am reminded that the best things come from God, and not by me "forcing" things to work.

I am trying to not feel overwhelmed by all these things, by looking at what I want to do, the bigness of it, in the midst of lots and lots of work and subsequent fatigue.

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