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Anita Shanker, Team Leader

Anita grew up in the small-town capital of Kentucky where she quickly developed a sense for policy and a definite sense of wanderlust. Luckily, she had the chance to travel by visiting her father’s family in India as often as possible (even in the deadly hot summers!).

In college, she studied everything from Asian philosophy to Anne Boleyn and ended up with degrees in biology and French. Her degrees brought her within arm’s length of the UN and WHO when she spent half a year doing biomedical research (while speaking French) in Geneva, Switzerland. From then on, she turned her gaze to global and public health and now, as a first year medical student, she is determined to maintain it as part of her life at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Connor Appelman, Team Member

Connor is a born and raised Kentuckian who, spent the formative years of his life running and jumping with his friends through the backwoods and rolling fields of his small hometown, Maysville, KY. Maysville is a picturesque and charming rural town in a region of the state well known for producing devilishly handsome, globetrotting social justice warriors. (George Clooney grew up right down the road.) During his time at the University of Kentucky, Connor cultivated his passion for healthcare access and evidence based initiatives both in the classroom and traveling in the mountains of Peru and bustling cities in India. (He has no bizarre appreciation for the scorching heat that he endured in New Delhi.) As a first year medical student at the University of Kentucky, he does his best to balance his time in the classroom by staying close to patients in the free, student-run Salvation Army Clinic. The rest of his time is spent on the basketball court where he hopes to achieve his dream of winning a University Intramural Championship for the College of Medicine.

Kandice Roberts, Team Member

Kandice was born in Louisville, KY and loved it so much, she chose to stay and obtain her undergraduate degree at the University of Louisville. There, she developed a passion for global non-profit provision of healthcare and decided to add Spanish and Global Public Health to her Biology studies.  Now, she is a first-year student at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Aside from the many hours she spends in the library, she participates in an HIV inter-professional education program to prepare herself for her dream career as a global physician.

Team Essay

Medicine: A World Without Borders

Borders between nations no longer demarcate lines between cultures and ethnicities. In the United States, we can walk by churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples all on the same street. It used to be that if we never left our city, our state, our country, we might never meet someone from a different cultural background. Now, our world is increasingly interconnected, so we must ensure that all people feel that they have a home, even when it is not their homeland.

Illness and injury are universal languages, something we all suffer and for which we seek the healing touch of a doctor. This is why proper access to care is one of the major goals of global healthcare. It is complex, with barriers such as disparities in language, socioeconomic status, and infrastructure. So far in our medical education, we have been able to work on alleviating these problems in our city. For example, one of our team members has had days at clinic in which she has had to interview patients in English, Spanish, and even in Kinyarwanda. We all volunteer our time at the Salvation Army Clinic to provide free healthcare to those in need. A member of our team is also engaged in research studying specific barriers to specialty care in Appalachia. Although these types of experiences develop skills needed to work in a global health setting, practicing in a foreign country further deepens our empathy and understanding of patients who come from outside of the United States.

Global health work allows us to glimpse firsthand what type of situation patients might come from. Perhaps they come from a culture in which herbal remedies are prized. As clinicians we must be cognizant of what interactions those can have with the medicine we prescribe. Perhaps the doctor-patient relationship is more formal or more casual where they come from. If we are not aware of these differences, it can make for an awkward first visit.

International experiences not only elucidate what we can do to make our patients more comfortable, but they also instill in us a sense of humbleness. When we are in our home country, the familiar environment and familiar language may blind us to the discomfort a foreigner may feel. Traveling reignites our empathy by reminding us how difficult it is to grapple with an unknown world. When we remember how that feels, our practice of medicine naturally becomes kinder and easier to navigate.

A physician balances the roles of a scientist and a caregiver: he or she always seeks new methods to best help their patients. In this global society, the best way to do that is to go abroad, experience healthcare there, then bring back empathy, understanding, and a drive to keep improving. Globally-aware physicians are equipped to break down the walls that bar some patients from a satisfying healthcare experience. By seeking out opportunities to open their minds, physicians can truly provide a home away from home for all patients.