Chisom Egwuatu has spent the past two years thinking about the relationship between medical practice and the populations it intends to serve. For her Capstone project, Minerva’s version of a final year thesis, Chisom researched the negative impact of adverse or traumatic experiences during childhood on the body’s stress-response system. Her research focused on integrating protective practices, such as belongingness, into the elementary school curriculum and exploring how certain tactics might be employed to ensure deeper resilience and thus better outcomes for these youth.
After graduation, Chisom joined University of California San Francisco Medical Center for Productive Health (UCSF) as an Assistant Patient Financial Navigator to continue working with patients. At UCSF, Chisom focused on building relationships with her clients to better help them both medically and holistically. For example, understanding that access to healthcare in the United States is often determined by financial status, she would work with clients to navigate a complicated, expensive, and resultantly inaccessible system. Her role was to explain the costs associated with each patient’s treatment plan and connect patients with third-party options that might help finance their treatment at the clinic.
From her direct work with clients, which often placed her in heartbreaking predicaments, Chisom began to question why an individual’s background or financial circumstances barred them from receiving necessary medical attention and care — and what she could do to prevent this.
Armed with this purpose in mind, Chisom is currently applying to medical school in order to learn how to fix the broken healthcare system. She acknowledges that she will be stepping out of her comfort zone, but believes she is well equipped from her past four years of Minerva education. According to Chisom, her Minerva experience taught her that in order to see something manifest in the world, you need to make it happen yourself and that it is okay to ask for help. And above all, that it is important to fight for opportunities for both yourself and for those who cannot do it on their own.