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We are thrilled to have Anirudh ‘Ani’ Kumar here on campus as the 2012-2013 Mabelle Arole Fellow. Ani completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University, majoring in Sustainable Development and Anthropology. He plans to do his medical studies at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Here’s what he says about his experience so far:

By Anirudh Kumar

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Welcome Ani!

In my second year of college, I became interested in the world of medicine and specifically, the field of global health. As my knowledge of global health grew deeper, it became increasingly apparent to me that health and development are inextricably intertwined. I realized simply going to medical school wasn’t going to prepare me for a career in a field where practicing clinical medicine was a small component of the broader objective of improving human lives. With this in mind, I decided I needed a field experience to contextualize my medical school education. I needed something practical that would give me an idea of the on-the-ground realities of health and development. CRHP offered that and more. In stark contrast to some of the larger NGOs I had researched, CRHP was clearly focused on putting health and development into the hands of the people. This philosophy of empowerment was clearly the best in my mind as it ensured for sustainability and true community growth. Applying to the MAF was an absolute no brainer after this realization.

What has been your greatest experience at CRHP so far?

It’s only been a month since I’ve gotten to CRHP but I’ve already seen some spectacular things. I think the greatest experience I’ve had thus far was witnessing the birth of a child. This was not my first time seeing a delivery (although it was my first time seeing a Caesarian section). I think what made the experience great was that the entire procedure epitomized the philosophy of CRHP. It was quite different than the delivery I had seen in the West. Protocols were simpler, instrumentation wasn’t as (for lack of a better word) fancy, and staff often performed multiple functions. One shouldn’t mistake this for being lesser than the care of the West. The quality of care was top-notch– sterility was maintained at all times and the physicians/staff were focused on the patient. What makes this brilliant is that with the bare minimum, CRHP produces the same health outcomes as a tertiary hospital in the West with cutting edge technology would produce. I think this goes to show that despite what resources you have, if you invest in people you can achieve anything. The staff coped with what they had because of the knowledge they had and they innovated to solve their problems.

What are you interested in working in / what are you getting involved in on campus?

One of the ugliest realities in India right now is the attitude of men towards women. The series of gang rapes that have captured the national conscience of India showcases the deep misogyny that permeates this society. While the issue is not unique to India, it demands our attention. Gender equity is a cornerstone for health and development. While here at CRHP I’d like to design a curriculum that explores sexual and domestic violence, including verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. I would like to fold the curriculum into the programs for adolescent boys/girls, village health workers, and the men of the community.

How do you see your time at CRHP shaping your future in medicine?

The intent of the MAF is to expose Fellows to a way of thinking about healthcare that deviates from the norm we find in the US. The US healthcare system is good at fixing people’s diseases. We have amazing tertiary care facilities and specialists of every type. But health is predicated on so much more than having a good disease management system. We need to get better at preventing diseases and promoting behavior that makes people healthier. We need to get better at recognizing the socioeconomic roots of health problems and help mitigate these underlying causes. We need to understand that health is a holistic endeavor that has little to do with disease mitigation and more to do with the broader mental, social, economic, and behavioral pillars that define human well-being. I believe that CRHP will give me the expertise to go back to the US and become a doctor who can think beyond the rigid confines of our notions of healthcare. I intend my time at CRHP to be part of a larger revolution that will hopefully redefine the conventions of medicine and our definition of health in the United States.

Applications for the 2014-2015 Mabelle Arole Fellowship are now available – please visit http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/MemberCenter/Premeds/mabellearole.aspx for more information!

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