Letter One

Hi! My name is Angeli Sharma and I am a rising sophomore from New Jersey. At Duke, I want to study public policy focusing on health care disparities and neuroscience as a pre-medical student.

My interest in medicine began at a young age. My mother has always been my role model and I always saw her on call, doing research, and overall just being excited about being a physician. Her passion for her career intrigued me. I slowly learned that I too was interested in medicine; it was the perfect intersection of science and altruism. In high school I wanted to explore all aspects of medicine. Instead of going to my regular public school, I attended a magnet school that focused on health sciences.

My parents emigrated from India and I am a first generation American. I feel that this has enabled me to keep a foot in both worlds. I volunteered at our local hospital here in the United States and shadowed a bariatric surgeon in India. Through a variety of such experiences, from planning blood drives at my high school and serving as a State and National Officer for an international health career organization called HOSA, my curiosity on the many divides in healthcare grew.

Out of all these experiences, one stood out to me the most. My family has always been very involved in community service and a big part of my time in high school was spent volunteering with an organization called Ekal Vidyalaya. Ekal Vidyalaya is a nonprofit that focuses on providing education to children to rural and tribal parts of India. In addition, to their main focus of eradicating illiteracy they also run health clinics and medical projects to better the health of these villages. One summer, I volunteered in these health clinics and schools. At these health clinics, physicians would work pro bono to provide medical treatment to common illnesses like malaria, TB, and anemia that would go untreated until these health clinics would arrive in these villages.

All of these experiences lead me to develop the ideas for my project. My project for the KSF focuses on medical ethics. I want to study how physicians treat low-income patients and make decisions regarding resource allocation. I hope to accomplish this by shadowing physicians and then conducting a formal interview where I ask them specific questions regarding both topics. From my high school experiences, I have seen how drastically resource allocation varies in resource-rich and resource-scarce countries. I hope to explore this aspect of medical ethics by shadowing physicians in both the U.S. and India.

I hope that with the conclusions that I draw and the observations I make will help me make similar decisions when it is time for me to be a physician. Additionally, I hope that with the report or paper that I write after my experience, other physicians can assess themselves and the way they practice medicine.

Getting my research approved was a complicated procedure because there are patients and protection of their privacy is of the utmost importance. But, now that is finally has been approved, I am trying to contact physicians who I can shadow in both countries.

This week, I have started with shadowing a physician in New Jersey and had my first day yesterday! I am very excited to see what I learn about ethics, medicine, and myself through this project.

Angeli Sharma is a T’20 Undergraduate and a 2017 Kenan Summer Fellows Participant

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