Julie McCormack, Team Leader
Julie has not always known she wanted to be a doctor. Her undergraduate studies focused on classical literature, international relations, and French. After college, in an effort to tie together her interests in service, travel, cross-cultural studies and language-learning, she ventured into the Peace Corps and spent over three years in Madagascar teaching English. While there, she had the opportunity to work with the Operation Smile medical team as a translator for a post-op pediatrician. The proverbial lightbulb turned on and she set her sights on medical school. As a future physician, her goals are to continue to pursue those aforementioned interests- service, travel, and cross-cultural exchange- in the realms of community and global health.
Shaigan Bhatti, Team Member
Shaigan was born in Pakistan and migrated to the United States when she was a little girl. During visits back to her native country, she noticed a dire need for healthcare and developed a passion for becoming a global health physician. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology and French at the University of Mount Union and her master’s degree in Anatomical Sciences at Lincoln Memorial University. Currently, she is a second year medical student at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering at her community health clinic and binge watching New Girl.
Kelly Muterspaw, Team Member
Kelly Muterspaw is a second year medical student at Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton Ohio. She is the President of Global Health Initiative and a board member for ReachOut Dayton, a free clinic in the heart of the city. She has had a love for different cultures and public health for as long as she can remember, constantly working to learn from and empower those who may not have the same privilege as others. Growing up in Xenia, Ohio has taught her a great deal about poverty in the United States. Seeing this inequality within her home town has caused her to reach out to abroad cultures to see how they deal with their own inequality!
Salony Dighamber, Team Member
Salony grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with a fierce love for art—creative writing being her favorite form. She decided to go to Indiana University, but then later transferred to University of Cincinnati where she obtained her BS in Biology and a Certificate in Creative Writing. There, along with writing magical realism and fantasy, she also had the amazing opportunity to travel with Global Medical Brigades to the Darien Province of Panama. This is what ultimately lead her to choose medical school, and now she attends Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine where she continues to pursue her passions for global health and creative writing.
Joe is your jovial, gregarious middle-aged patient in Dayton, Ohio. He works for a neighborhood credit union. Though he gets frustrated with his “desk job,” he loves talking to clients and feels like he is making a difference in people’s lives by improving their financial security. Joe and his family consider themselves healthy, though Joe had a heart attack two years ago and currently has uncontrolled, worsening hypertension.
On a two week medical trip to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, Ecuador, you meet José, a kind and gentle father bringing in his daughter for a well-check. After her visit, you ask José about himself. He is a successful farm owner and operator. You ask about his last check-up, and he remembers “many years back” that a visiting physician told him his blood pressure was “alarmingly high.” He followed up with a local doctor but has not been to the clinic since, though he’s been checked intermittently by community health workers who’ve always told him that it’s higher than normal.
Two men, two countries, one common health concern: controlling their blood pressure. When each man is asked about his medical challenges, Joe reports that he is caring for his aging parents and sometimes he must choose between paying for his own medications or those of his loved ones. José frequently worries about his personal and his family’s health. Although community health workers periodically pass through his rural town, an emergent problem would mean a trip to the capital and a hunt for a hospital with open beds.
Each of these men is not an isolated set of treatable symptoms; he exists in a framework of the social determinants of his health. Understanding our patients’ unique set of social determinants – whether it be access to nutritious food, a safe living environment, or high-quality healthcare – can provide us the opportunity to heal patients instead of only treating disease. As we work towards this end, a primary hurdle can be hesitation to ask questions for which we may not have the answers. We may worry that it is not in our power or our scope of practice to affect what happens in our patients’ lives outside the four walls of the clinic. However, by asking these questions and having difficult conversations, we cultivate deeper, more empathetic connections with our patients. We listen to what they truly need to improve their lives.
Experiences in communities far from our own push us outside of our comfort zones, both geographically and professionally. They expand our understanding of how our neighbors, locally and globally, prevail against their diverse set of challenges. As we learn about the social determinants of health in various parts of the world, we are encouraged to develop creative solutions, foster worldwide partnerships and advocate for system changes which promote healthcare for all rather than a commodity for the few. We must seize the opportunities to care for the Joes and the Josés of the world. This is our responsibility and our privilege as aspiring global health professionals.