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Class of 2018 Medical School Graduates: Working to advance health globally

 |  By Karin Fleming
graduation 2018

graduation 2018

“This is the start of the careers of 148 new physicians,” said Dean Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, addressing graduates, friends, and families at this year’s UCSF School of Medicine commencement at Davies Symphony Hall last week. “Today you become UCSF doctors embarking on the next phase of your journey. As a graduating class, you represent physician leaders who will work locally and globally to advance health and advocate for the equitable care of our patients.”

Celebrating the graduating medical students and recognizing their collective work for advocacy and health care equity in the Bay Area and internationally, Dr. King’s remarks set the stage for a theme of global health expressed by Professor of Medicine Eric Goosby, MD, who delivered the commencement address.

Dr. Goosby attended medical school and completed residency and fellowship training at UCSF, and was ambassador-at-large and global AIDS coordinator from 2009-2013 in the Obama administration. He returned to UCSF in 2013 as a professor in the Department of Medicine and in Global Health Sciences, where he is the director for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy.

“I am so proud to be a UCSF graduate, to come from an institution that has prioritized research, clinical training and service, and which has worked to advance care globally,” said Dr. Goosby. “During my career, I focused on one disease that has affected people worldwide; it taught me the commonality of the human experience.” Dr. Goosby recounted the scientific breakthroughs that arose at UCSF during the rise of the AIDS epidemic, and spoke to the graduates of the integrated care model pioneered at UCSF that has benefited care internationally. “To manage this and other infectious diseases, we must hold governments accountable for action and equity globally. Now more than ever, the world needs you. You must become agents of the global work to see the spectrum of the human condition.” 

Following Dr. Goosby’s remarks, graduating student Walker Keenan delivered the senior address. He was selected by a committee of peers and will begin residency training in psychiatry at Yale’s New Haven Hospital this summer. Keenan has been a dedicated advocate of health care equity since starting medical school at UCSF, a volunteer for homeless clinics, and a key player in initiatives such White Coats for Black Lives and the Science & Health Education Partnership, and an advocate for the equitable care of patients in underserved communities and those struggling with mental illness. 

“We must work to understand how and why our patients get sick, on a local community level and internationally,” said Keenan. “We must understand the forces on our own society that marginalize care, we must be scientists, health care providers, artists, and advocates to fight for those marginalized around us. I applaud you for honoring the core belief of the doctor-patient relationship: to do what’s in the best interest of the patient.”

Keenan commended his peers – the Class of 2018 – as leaders who have advocated for more equitable health care policies, worked to improve care for people who are marginally housed, facing chronic illnesses, affected by racism, or afflicted by gun violence. “We live in a time in which our patients are particularly vulnerable. But I remain optimistic because of the leadership and commitment to advocacy that I have seen in our class.” 

He cited fellow Gold-Headed Cane inductees Sidra Bonner and Maria Patanwala for their leadership during their medical school training. The Gold-Headed Cane is awarded by students and faculty to honor those members of the senior class who “best represent those qualities of scholarship and devotion to the interests of patients, which characterize the true physician.”

“I am tremendously inspired by the impact our students have already had on our institution. And I look forward with great excitement to all that they will accomplish as they launch their careers as UCSF-educated physicians,” said Catherine R. Lucey, MD, Executive Vice Dean, Vice Dean for Education, Professor of Medicine, and The Faustino and Martha Molina Bernadett Presidential Chair in Medical Education.

Working to Advance Health Locally and Globally

Large numbers of medical students at UCSF do clinical work abroad, often as part of an international career path but also tied to initiatives aimed at bringing better care to immigrant or underserved communities in the US. A few examples:

Hannan Braun completed a research project between her third and fourth year of medical school, sponsored by the Doris Duke Foundation. She lived in Lima, Peru for the year, working on a clinical trial studying interventions to promote adherence to HIV prevention treatment among transgender women in Lima. She also completed a primary care clerkship in Navajo Nation based at the Chinle Comprehensive Health Center. “Training at UCSF has fostered my interest in working with underserved patients since I’m surrounded by classmates who are dedicated to health equity and by faculty who have devoted their careers to serving vulnerable populations.” Braun will study internal medicine and primary care at Boston University Medical Center.

Daniela Brissett was enrolled in the PRIME-US program at UCSF and completed a research gap year studying pediatric health in Roatán, Honduras. Engaging her long-standing passion for youth and the underserved, Daniela worked alongside her Honduran counterparts to cofound the Roatán Peer-Health Exchange, which leverages the local community and medical students to teach island youth about reproductive health, and empower them with knowledge to reduce teenage pregnancy and HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Brissett will study pediatrics during residency training at UCSF in the PLUS Program.

Gaelen Britton Stanford-Moore conducted HIV research in Kenya, and is interested in ear, nose, and throat health in developing nations worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that one in every 19 people lives with disabling hearing loss, which is more predominant in these developing countries. She will complete residency training in otolaryngology at UCSF.

Elise Delagnes spent four weeks in Uganda, visiting hospitals and surveying health care providers about local anesthesia management projects. She assisted regional teams by developing a tool to assess anesthesia practice patterns. She also worked on a second project that involved administering and collecting data for a study that identifies provider practice patterns of difficult airways in Uganda, including characteristics, management, resources, and consequences. She will study anesthesiology during her residency training at UCSF, and plans to continue her global health work in collaboration with her mentor Michael Lipnick, MD, Assistant Professor, and UCSF's Global Partners of Surgery and Anesthesia to improve patients’ access to care.

Hannah Obasi studied new methods to decrease infant mortality in rural Nigeria, and also completed a summer fellowship studying malaria infection rates and treatment patterns in Uganda. She matched to the University of Southern California and will complete residency training in internal medicine/pediatrics.

Pooja Shah completed a year-long Pathways to Discovery project studying contraceptive practice patterns in Guatemala, and worked to improve compliance among indigenous women. Shah will train in surgery at Cornell University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital.