Abiba Salahou, M.D., has lengthy been dedicated to public well being and advocacy by no means searching for or anticipating to earn any high-level recognition for her work.
Nevertheless, Salahou not too long ago was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Public Well being Award from the U.S. Public Well being Service Doctor Skilled Advisory Committee. She was formally acknowledged for this honor at 2023’s Honors Convocation on Might 11.
Salahou stated that she was “shocked” and “honored” to have acquired the award.
“I wasn’t actually anticipating it, simply because I do know there are many actually superb classmates right here that do loads of volunteer work in the neighborhood and are additionally doing loads of nice initiatives…any considered one of us may have simply deserved the identical award,” she stated. “It was undoubtedly a really nice shock. I’m extraordinarily honored as effectively.”
“It was good to have some recognition that helps how deeply I care about enhancing the communities that I’m going to be serving,” added Salahou.
“Having that recognition proper earlier than beginning residency has been actually particular, as a result of I undoubtedly need to proceed that work as a doctor.”
She acquired the e-mail informing her that she can be receiving the award the identical day as Match Day, including to the already thrilling day the place she found she matched in psychiatry at Yale College.
“It was an outstanding day, undoubtedly the most effective day of my med faculty profession for positive,” she stated.
Addressing the limitations
Salahou’s first publicity to the medical area was when she was rising up in Syracuse, N.Y. She would accompany her grandmother on journeys to the physician to translate for her from English to Yoruba.
“Seeing firsthand the differential remedy that she would get as a non-English-speaking affected person was actually placing to me,” stated Salahou.
“It made me eager about well being care disparities and determining why it’s that we’ve got a lot well being care inequity,” she added. “And why issues like language limitations create such an enormous hole in take care of sufferers.”
Abiba Salahou was all smiles on Match Day.
Moreover, she credit rising up in an city atmosphere for exposing her to the disparities in well being care. Salahou hung out volunteering with native refugee organizations in New York and in Nicaragua when she was an undergraduate scholar.
“(In Nicaragua) I used to be in a position to place the general public well being context inside a bigger international scale and take a look at all of the issues that I used to be seeing rising up in New York and distinction that to what I used to be seeing abroad,” she stated. “It solidified my curiosity (in medication).”
Total, she stated she finds medication to be a area suited to advocating for marginalized populations.
“What I am most keen about is enhancing the circumstances and the communities that I see round me in addition to growing consciousness and shedding gentle onto the on a regular basis plights and challenges that occur, particularly inside marginalized and underserved communities,” stated Salahou.
“Medication is de facto some of the good fields to handle this concern,” she added. “We’re uniquely positioned as medical college students as a result of on the one hand, we’ve got that perspective, being members of the neighborhood ourselves, however then we’re additionally studying alongside physicians and different medical college students and attending to see firsthand how the medical system is working.”
Time at OUWB
After Salahou graduated from Bard School with a level in biology, she wished to discover a medical faculty that aligned together with her values and pursuits, notably in neighborhood group and activism. She discovered that OUWB was the place that checked her containers.
“After I was interviewing at medical colleges, I used to be actually being attentive to the faculties that talked about neighborhood service, wished college students to become involved and be engaged, and wished college students to be concerned in these conversations,” she stated.
Throughout her interview with OUWB, she was struck by the initiatives in place to get college students concerned in neighborhood service.
“It actually appeared just like the deal with neighborhood service wasn’t only for present on (OUWB’s) web site, however one thing that was closely prioritized,” stated Salahou. “Being a scholar right here, it has been really easy to faucet into native organizations and become involved as a result of there are already so many neighborhood partnerships…so I believe that the emphasis and deal with neighborhood service ended up being true.”
Salahou’s historical past of involvement at OUWB and the encircling neighborhood is in depth— throughout her 4 years on the establishment, she has been concerned with a number of scholar organizations. She joined the Psychiatry Curiosity Group in 2021, and served because the M3 scholar consultant and analysis liaison. On this group, she established a analysis element of the group to get college students concerned within the analysis facet of psychiatry.
Salahou had been part of the Pupil Nationwide Medical Affiliation since 2020 and served on the group’s govt board, the place she took half in organizing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Well being Honest at Chandler Park Academy Excessive College and created programming on campus to teach medical college students concerning the challenges minority sufferers and college students face. Different scholar teams she was concerned with and held management positions in embrace the Pediatric Curiosity Group, Psychological Well being Advocates Group, and Household Medication Curiosity Group.
Outdoors of OUWB, Salahou has been concerned with a number of neighborhood organizations, together with Lighthouse of Oakland County.
“I’ve labored actually intently (with them) to create a longitudinal analysis venture evaluating how emotional misery in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted emotional misery amongst meals insecure people dwelling in southeast Michigan,” she stated.
Alongside that analysis, Salahou created a digital psychological well being toolkit for neighborhood members.
What Salahou is most happy with, nonetheless, is the call-to-action she created in 2020.
“I led the initiative to create a call-to-action, anti-racism initiative on the medical faculty that consisted of assembly one-on-one with college members…and brainstorm how we will higher improve the range throughout the curriculum and higher improve our dialog about loads of the general public well being points that I felt weren’t being adequately addressed,” she stated. “I additionally had loads of assist from different classmates of mine that had been equally passionate.”
“(We) created an intensive doc that outlines the methods through which we wished OUWB to handle our core eight actions gadgets, together with issues like enhancing the preclinical curriculum to boost conversations about race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic standing, and issues like that,” she added. “(One other motion merchandise was) to extend the illustration of varied affected person teams inside our medical instructing…we additionally had conversations about growing racial range throughout the scholar physique itself.”
In response to the doc, Salahou stated that “fairly substantial curriculum modifications” had been made, together with new lectures within the pre-clinical curriculum and the creation of a call-to-action job pressure. She was additionally concerned in making a report auditing the lectures at OUWB to see what number of occasions subjects associated to range, fairness, and inclusion had been talked about, which was then offered at nationwide conferences.
Looking forward to her residency, Salahou stated that the identical values that guided her to OUWB guided her to Yale.
“At Yale, there is among the few psychiatry packages within the nation that’s actually identified for his or her social justice and neighborhood psychological well being work. Inside the program, they’ve a complete social justice and anti-racism curriculum,” she stated. “That instantly spoke to me.”
“I believe it got here full circle…I really feel like I am nonetheless pinching myself each time I take into consideration residency, however I’m extraordinarily excited and honored to have the ability to prepare there, and tremendous excited to proceed being concerned and keen about advocating for marginalized affected person populations.”
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