Pulling from his vast personal experience in the field and classroom, pediatric clinician Roy Wade Med'07 focused on reducing income disparity in health care and encouraged attendees to discuss improvements to working with underserved communities in a lecture on Thursday as part of Geisel School of Medicine's Martin Luther King Jr. day celebrations.
Wade sought to increase the audience's awareness of impoverished communities' general well-being.
He told the story of a patient he worked with while in residency at the University of Virginia. The patient suffered from self-harm tendencies, behavioral issues and substance abuse after a tumultuous childhood characterized by family instability. Wade realized that he could remain a presence in her life even after caring for her, and he continued corresponding with her over email. Although the patient eventually passed away after a drug overdose, Wade said his interactions with her inspired him to promote issues of income inequality and achieve social justice in the field of medicine.
"There is no greater injustice than the poverty we allow kids to live in," he said.
Wade said that the government has attempted to approach these issues, and that the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will expand Americans' access to medical coverage.
The lecture, attended by over 50 professors, students and Upper Valley residents, sparked debate and concluded with a discussion session in focus groups.
Faculty and students said they appreciated the discussion.
"I heard interesting stories about health care in the Upper Valley that I wouldn't have been able to get without talking to the people around me," Keri Wolfe MALS'13 said about her group discussion.
Shawn O'Leary, director of diversity and community engagement at the Geisel School, said that the discussions emphasized the importance of changing doctors' behavior toward impoverished patients and improving the school's outreach to the less fortunate in the Upper Valley.
Poverty informs the major underlying issues in today's health care system, according to Paul Manganiello, an obstetrics and gynecology profesor.
In order to improve the health care system, it is necessary to examine the root causes of poverty, he said.
During his years in medical school, Wade's passion for social justice stood out, said David Nierenberg, associate dean for medical education.
"Roy was special not just in his commitment to learning medicine, but his commitment to improving society, social justice and access for patients to the health care system," Nierenberg said. "My main feeling tonight is how proud I am of the wonderful things he's done."
Wade completed a Schweitzer Fellowship at the Geisel School and created a cultural competency curriculum that includes monthly seminars covering issues on social styles, health disparities and interpreter training for Dartmouth students and faculty.
After graduating from the Geisel School, Wade completed his pediatric residency at UVA in 2010. He is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a pediatrics clinician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He earned a masters in public health in health policy and management from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.
The lecture, titled "Addressing Health Disparities, Moving Towards Social Justice in Medicine," was held in Chilcott Auditorium at the Geisel School.