Janaka Lagoo, MD, MPH

In getting the opportunity to write this blog, my brainstorming list of topics started to grow. And so I moved from a café napkin to an actual piece of paper. Possible topics included:

How can reverse innovation be championed and scaled in global health?
How can doctor well-being be prioritized from training to practice?
How can we move from buzzwords to lasting action in comprehensively tackling social determinants of health?

The list continued, and I’m already looking forward to more reflection and writing. For now, though, I keep returning to the old adage: start with your story.

Karen Scherr, M.D., Ph.D.

In the past few decades, the “patient revolution” has empowered patients to become informed, active participants in their own health care experiences. Strong patient-physician communication is at the heart of this revolution. Unfortunately, physicians may be inadvertently undermining this effort due to our underdeveloped communication skills. As part of my doctoral program in consumer behavior, I read more than 300 transcripts of conversations between patients and physicians to better understand how they communicate with each other.

Clayton Cooper, M.D., MBA

In late August, I received an email from Duke Family Medicine Residency Program Director Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, M.D., FAAFP, inviting residents to apply as a World Health Organization (WHO) young leader to attend the WHO/UNICEF Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan. After reading the application, I knew being accepted out of a global group of young health professionals would be a long shot, but the advice of a long-time mentor popped into my head. He told me to always shoot for 50 percent success in what I apply for, because if I am always successful, I will be missing many incredible opportunities. 

In early October, I was invited to experience one of these incredible opportunities as part of a group of 50 young global primary care health professionals invited to attend the conference, as well as special preconference. During the preconference, I met individuals across the spectrum of health professions to discuss issues facing primary health care in our countries and determine policy priorities to building a future that puts primary care at the center of our health care systems. It was stimulating and inspiring to work with people coming from backgrounds and professions so different than mine and to brainstorm solutions to problems as diverse as reliable power sources for rural African clinics to the need for comprehensive payment reform that better compensates primary and preventive care. While we each had unique challenges, we realized that we shared many of the same struggles to bring primary care to the forefront of our health systems.

Anna Afonso, M.D., MPH

I still remember my first month of intern year — waking up in the middle of the night to check patient charts, labs, vitals and online resources. The transition from medical student to doctor frightened me, and I spent many nights reading through charts moment by moment to reassure myself that my patients were all tucked away and doing well through the night.

When I look back on “intern me,” I wish I could tell myself to go to sleep, among many other things that would have made me a much happier and more effective resident. I have compiled a brief list of my personal Top 10 pieces of advice for the new intern, in my hopes that it may help others in their transition from medical student to doctor.

Alexa Namba, DO, MPH

I took one step backward, started to lose my balance, and knew it was all over. I fell to the ground as squeals of delight and laughter filled the air. My right foot just could not reach the red circle, and my chance for Twister victory had evaporated. It’s Sunday evening at the patient hostel in Mwanza, Tanzania — which means family dinner and game night.

For the past six weeks, I have had the privilege to rotate at the Bugando Medical Centre. Seated atop a hill, overlooking the city and Lake Victoria, this hospital is the largest referral specialty hospital in the Lake region of Tanzania, covering 13 million people. Therefore, when traditional medicine has been tried and local and regional hospitals have not been successful, patients come here for specialty care. While this sounds similar to Duke, it was very apparent, from my first day, that I was no longer in Durham, N.C.