By Alice Stella, AI Research Fellow ’19-20
After taking a research course during my senior year of undergrad, I became fascinated by how research and data can tackle prevalent social issues. After graduating from college, I knew I wanted to apply to medical schools and gain more research experience to help me further prepare as a physician. When I discovered research opportunities offered through the Aseemkala Initiative, I felt inspired by the women in medicine, leading the projects. As someone who came from a disadvantaged background being a Burmese refugee, I wanted to focus my project on the Burmese refugee population as the research is sparse. One of the reasons I wanted to pursue a career in medicine is to improve the patient experience care received by the Burmese refugees by becoming more aware of the social issues they face.
I have always been intrigued by social issues that affect the overall wellbeing of a person. As a result, I wanted to research how social issues that Burmese refugees faced serve as barriers to receiving optimal care, such as patient-physician relationships. As someone without any prior experiences in research, the Aseemkala Initiative was the perfect opportunity for me to grow and learn as a future researcher. Although my initial idea for the project did not complete, I was delighted to work on the topics of physician burnout and the symbolic meaning of a physician’s white coat.
When the two topics on physician burnout and the symbolic meaning of a white coat proposed to me, I did not realize the immense impact that burnout has on the physicians’ lives and the significance of a doctor’s white coat. While working on the papers, I realized the consequences of burnout were undermined, much like the healthcare barriers the Burmese refugees faced in the states.
The papers that I did for the symbolic meaning of white coat and the burnout paper helped me comprehend not only how to conduct research but to become more aware of unnoticed social issues in medicine. While working on the literature review of the two topics, I learned how research could pave a way not only to conduct experiments that offer solutions but also to recognize the problems ignored in our society. The staggering data on the prevalence of burnout in medicine showcases that there needs to be an immediate action. The physician’s white coat meant more than mere clothing but symbolized a tool that can improve the patient-physician relationship to provide optimal patient care. As the two articles that I worked on physician burnout and the symbolic meaning of a physician white coat are in the working process of publications, I am thankful for the opportunity presented to me through the Aseemkala Initiative.
As a first-generation college student, the support and guidance that I received from the Aseemkala Initiative were crucial for my journey toward becoming a physician. I am incredibly grateful for the enriching experiences that I have as a research fellow on the Assemkala Initiative.
As I pursue a career in medicine, I hope to conduct more research that focuses on social problems that need to be addressed by the medical community.