Medical student honored for her fight against racial disparities in health care | Lantern

Deborah Fadoju, a fourth-year medical student studying to become an obstetrician-gynecologist, received an inaugural scholarship for her efforts to close the black maternal mortality gap. Credit: Katherine Simon | Lantern Reporter

An Ohio State medical student proves that hard work and awareness pay off.

Deborah Fadoju, a fourth-year medical student studying to become an obstetrician-gynecologist, received the first annual Sylvia B. Kelly Medical Fellowship on July 12 from the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which represents Safety Net health plans in non-profit. which works to improve the health of people with low incomes or high needs, according to its website.

According to an ACAP press release, Fadoju was selected for the $25,000 grant because of her teachings in the College of Medicine, her political activism, and a recent project that focused on maternal outcomes for populations. underserved.

Fadoju said that as a black woman, she was always aware of racial health disparities, but realized their importance when she became a medical student.

“I once started to realize that once you normalize for socio-economic backgrounds and when you normalize for status, income and education level, the disparity still exists,” said Fadoju. “I started to dig deeper and realized that the structure of medicine, the structure of medical education and the structure of advocacy needed to be reworked.”

Fadoju said she developed a course to teach future medical students about the impact of history and legislation on medical racism as well as the effect of unconscious bias in health care, which she has developed in collaboration with two of his peers in their early years of medical school, Hafza Inshaar and Abbie Zewdu.

“I really remember being at a time when I was kind of frustrated with the lessons that weren’t being taught in medical education,” Fadoju said. “While we were taught the pathophysiology of disease, we weren’t really taught much about the social determinants of health – how where we grow, how what we eat, how all the things that really make up our health in outside of a doctor’s visit, really determining our results.

Fadoju said all first-year medical students at Ohio State are now required to take the course and participate in a case-based discussion where they talk about real patient scenarios.

“We teach students in real time how they can begin to unlearn some of their unconscious biases and really use skill sets and tools to mitigate racism,” Fadoju said.

Fadoju said she testified before the Ohio State Senate in 2020 to pass a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The resolution did not pass, she said.

“I think what this shows more than anything is that from a structural point of view, this reform is something that still needs to be done,” Fadoju said.

After George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police in 2020, Fadoju said she organized an event where more than 500 healthcare workers, lawmakers and media kneeling in front of the James Cancer Hospital to show that the College of Medicine does not support police brutality.

“I gave a speech in which I expressed my frustration and expressed my hope for change within the Medical School campus, but also in the global sphere,” Fadoju said.

Fadoju and her team created a brochure and an educational session as partners of Moms2Be – a pregnancy program for low-income women at high risk of mortality – she said. She said the session teaches women about their rights in an OB-GYN office and how they can stand up for themselves.

“We show them what resources they can use if they feel like their rights aren’t being heard by their provider,” Fadoju said. “The scope and focus is actually to empower our patients, but also to enable our providers to engage in partnership with their patients.”

Black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reasons for this are underlying chronic illnesses, structural racism and implicit biases within the healthcare system, according to the CDC.

Fadoju said she realized she wanted to create change when she stopped belittling herself and started seeing herself as a future leader in healthcare.

“I often think that when we think of the health care field and where the key players are, we think of doctors who have already completed four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical training, and then a residency, but we forget that the main players are medical students,” Fadoju said.

Dr. Amber Bondurant-Sullivan, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said Fadoju has done a great job of raising awareness about health care disparities, which can lead to improvements.

Bondurant-Sullivan said she recommended Fadoju for the scholarship because of her passion for her work.

“Having more students and more medical providers like Deborah, who are not only aware but passionate about this work, and definitely increases our diversity within medicine in all areas – not just OB-GYN, all areas , but especially OB-GYN — I think it’s helpful,” Bondurant-Sullivan said.

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