Abiba Salahou, M.D., has lengthy been committed to public wellness and advocacy by no means looking for or anticipating to earn any higher-level recognition for her perform.
Even so, Salahou not too long ago was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Public Well being Award from the U.S. Public Well being Service Doctor Specialist Advisory Committee. She was formally acknowledged for this honor at 2023’s Honors Convocation on May well 11.
Salahou mentioned that she was “surprised” and “honored” to have received the award.
“I wasn’t definitely expecting it, just for the reason that I know there are lots of definitely wonderful classmates right here that do a lot of volunteer perform in the neighborhood and are also undertaking a lot of wonderful initiatives…any 1 of us could have quickly deserved the identical award,” she mentioned. “It was certainly a really pleasant surprise. I’m incredibly honored as effectively.”
“It was good to have some recognition that supports how deeply I care about enhancing the communities that I’m going to be serving,” added Salahou.
“Having that recognition ideal ahead of beginning residency has been definitely unique, for the reason that I certainly want to continue that perform as a doctor.”
She received the e-mail informing her that she would be getting the award the identical day as Match Day, adding to the currently thrilling day exactly where she found she matched in psychiatry at Yale University.
“It was a phenomenal day, certainly the finest day of my med college profession for confident,” she mentioned.
Addressing the barriers
Salahou’s very first exposure to the health-related field was when she was developing up in Syracuse, N.Y. She would accompany her grandmother on trips to the medical professional to translate for her from English to Yoruba.
“Seeing firsthand the differential remedy that she would get as a non-English-speaking patient was definitely striking to me,” mentioned Salahou.
“It created me interested in wellness care disparities and figuring out why it is that we have so significantly wellness care inequity,” she added. “And why items like language barriers develop such a enormous gap in care for sufferers.”
Abiba Salahou was all smiles on Match Day.
Furthermore, she credits developing up in an urban atmosphere for exposing her to the disparities in wellness care. Salahou spent time volunteering with neighborhood refugee organizations in New York and in Nicaragua when she was an undergraduate student.
“(In Nicaragua) I was in a position to location the public wellness context inside a bigger international scale and appear at all the items that I was seeing developing up in New York and contrast that to what I was seeing overseas,” she mentioned. “It solidified my interest (in medicine).”
General, she mentioned she finds medicine to be a field suited to advocating for marginalized populations.
“What I am most passionate about is enhancing the situations and the communities that I see about me as effectively as rising awareness and shedding light onto the each day plights and challenges that occur, in particular inside marginalized and underserved communities,” mentioned Salahou.
“Medicine is definitely 1 of the most fantastic fields to address this problem,” she added. “We’re uniquely positioned as health-related students for the reason that on the 1 hand, we have that viewpoint, getting members of the neighborhood ourselves, but then we’re also finding out alongside physicians and other health-related students and receiving to see firsthand how the health-related program is operating.”
Time at OUWB
Just after Salahou graduated from Bard College with a degree in biology, she wanted to discover a health-related college that aligned with her values and interests, specifically in neighborhood organization and activism. She discovered that OUWB was the location that checked her boxes.
“When I was interviewing at health-related schools, I was definitely paying interest to the schools that talked about neighborhood service, wanted students to get involved and be engaged, and wanted students to be involved in these conversations,” she mentioned.
For the duration of her interview with OUWB, she was struck by the initiatives in location to get students involved in neighborhood service.
“It definitely seemed like the concentrate on neighborhood service wasn’t just for show on (OUWB’s) web-site, but a thing that was heavily prioritized,” mentioned Salahou. “Being a student right here, it really is been so quick to tap into neighborhood organizations and get involved for the reason that there are currently so a lot of neighborhood partnerships…so I believe that the emphasis and concentrate on neighborhood service ended up getting correct.”
Salahou’s history of involvement at OUWB and the surrounding neighborhood is extensive— throughout her 4 years at the institution, she has been involved with numerous student organizations. She joined the Psychiatry Interest Group in 2021, and served as the M3 student representative and study liaison. In this group, she established a study element of the group to get students involved in the study aspect of psychiatry.
Salahou had been a portion of the Student National Health-related Association considering the fact that 2020 and served on the group’s executive board, exactly where she took portion in organizing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Well being Fair at Chandler Park Academy Higher College and designed programming on campus to educate health-related students about the challenges minority sufferers and students face. Other student groups she was involved with and held leadership positions in contain the Pediatric Interest Group, Mental Well being Advocates Group, and Family members Medicine Interest Group.
Outdoors of OUWB, Salahou has been involved with numerous neighborhood organizations, such as Lighthouse of Oakland County.
“I’ve worked definitely closely (with them) to develop a longitudinal study project evaluating how emotional distress throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted emotional distress amongst meals insecure men and women living in southeast Michigan,” she mentioned.
Alongside that study, Salahou designed a virtual mental wellness toolkit for neighborhood members.
What Salahou is most proud of, nevertheless, is the get in touch with-to-action she designed in 2020.
“I led the initiative to develop a get in touch with-to-action, anti-racism initiative at the health-related college that consisted of meeting 1-on-1 with faculty members…and brainstorm how we can improved boost the diversity inside the curriculum and improved boost our conversation about a lot of the public wellness difficulties that I felt weren’t getting adequately addressed,” she mentioned. “I also had a lot of support from other classmates of mine that have been equally passionate.”
“(We) designed an comprehensive document that outlines the techniques in which we wanted OUWB to address our core eight actions things, such as items like enhancing the preclinical curriculum to boost conversations about race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and items like that,” she added. “(One more action item was) to boost the representation of many patient groups inside our clinical teaching…we also had conversations about rising racial diversity inside the student physique itself.”
In response to the document, Salahou mentioned that “pretty substantial curriculum changes” have been created, such as new lectures in the pre-clinical curriculum and the creation of a get in touch with-to-action activity force. She was also involved in developing a report auditing the lectures at OUWB to see how a lot of occasions subjects connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion have been talked about, which was then presented at national conferences.
Searching ahead to her residency, Salahou mentioned that the identical values that guided her to OUWB guided her to Yale.
“At Yale, there is 1 of the handful of psychiatry applications in the nation that is definitely identified for their social justice and neighborhood mental wellness perform. Inside the plan, they have a complete social justice and anti-racism curriculum,” she mentioned. “That straight spoke to me.”
“I believe it came complete circle…I really feel like I am nevertheless pinching myself just about every time I believe about residency, but I’m incredibly excited and honored to be in a position to train there, and super excited to continue getting involved and passionate about advocating for marginalized patient populations.”
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