Working to make changes to the health care system | College of Human Medicine

September 23, 2022

Donna Tran is a third-year medical student. In May, she earned a master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the national president of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association and the medical student representative of the Association for College Psychiatry. She recently completed an internship with the US Senate HELP Committee and the Maryland Department of Health.


In the 1970s, my father fled Vietnam to the United States with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. He was 16 years old. To survive in America, he had to start over at a new high school, learn a new language, and even work as a janitor for $2 an hour. He’s the most important man in my life. During my freshman year of college, he and my mom told me he had a brain tumor.

My desire to become a doctor stemmed from my family experience with cancer. So, after entering medical school, my desire to help others in similar situations grew stronger, and I wanted to learn how to implement such large-scale, systemic changes at the population level through the through government, academia and industry. I realized that I could help individual patients, but wondered how I could bring my skills and talents to a larger scale. I wanted to give voice to patients and underrepresented groups and serve them in difficult times, especially with the experience of the COVID pandemic and the increase in anti-Asian racism.

In addition to medical school, I became the National President of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association in 2020. APAMSA is the largest national organization of medical and pre-medical students committed to addressing health challenges unique Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, made up of more than 10,000 members in more than 160 local chapters nationwide. My primary goals have been to support the AANHPI medical community through advocacy and civic engagement efforts, leadership development, and prioritizing national initiatives in community outreach, diversity, and beyond. .

Because I wanted to serve patients and underrepresented groups, I took a year off to earn a master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Getting an MPH was a natural fit for my future life goals. I hope to stay in academic medicine and actively participate in positions at the federal level, while working in a hospital or clinic and pursuing research and teaching. I enjoy exploring many interests and avenues, but my focus on serving minorities and mental health initiatives has persisted over the years.

At the Maryland Department of Health, I discovered gaps in the state’s health care system and engaged with stakeholders from state government, academic and research institutions, private practice, and Of the industry.

I also had the opportunity to intern for the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Maryland Department of Health in 2022, which was in line with my desire to learn more about health care in a systemic way. I want to improve population health, especially minority health, women’s health, and public mental health.

During my time as a health policy intern on the US Senate HELP Committee, I participated in civic and political engagement and helped my team. It is extremely rewarding to see my writing and political skills improve, because these political and political skills are not taught in medical school. Having an immersive, hands-on experience on Capitol Hill was life-changing, and I’m grateful to all of the kind mentors and team members who taught me how our laws and government work, and so much more.

I’m back at MSU now to complete my third year of medical school. I look forward to using everything I learned from my Masters in Public Health as well as everything I learn in medical school to better help our health care system.


This story originally appeared on MSUToday

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