Making Preventive Medicine More Accessible

  • Feature Story

Making Preventive Medicine More Accessible

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Fatima Husain | MIT News Office
Image credit: Jake Belcher | MIT News

MIT senior Anjali Misra is drawn to health care problems that don’t have easy answers

Anjali Misra spends a lot of time attending to those who need help the most. On a typical day, the MIT senior and certified emergency medical technician can be found behind the wheel of the MIT ambulance or leading training sessions in CPR and first aid across campus. So far, Misra has helped facilitate the training of more than 1,000 MIT community members.

“I like the idea of being the kind of person who can help in a crisis,” she says. “I think that getting to do something similar as a career would be ideal.”

Misra, who is majoring in brain and cognitive sciences and minoring in music, has her eyes set on medicine: “I knew for my entire life that I wanted to be a doctor. I was one of those strange kids who from 2 years old had a vision.”

That vision brought Misra from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, though she admits that “the idea of trying to pursue medicine at an institute of technology seemed a bit incongruous” at first. She turns to her career role model, physician and author Atul Gawande, to explain how her MIT education has been crucial to her approach to medicine.

“He said that science is a commitment to a systematic way of thinking,” she says. By approaching medicine systematically, Misra hopes to “solve problems that don’t really seem to have answers on the surface.”

She’s referring in large part to problems that span both public health and medicine: preventable diseases, which are exacerbated by disparities in access to health care. During her high school years in Cedar Rapids, Misra witnessed firsthand the inaccessibility of health care in rural communities.

When she volunteered at her local hospital, she began to notice that some of the patients visiting the emergency room suffered from chronic, unchecked medical conditions — and that the visits could have been avoided if the patients had access to regular care. “To me, that is an area for great improvement in health care,” Misra says.

To best equip herself with the tools to tackle preventable disease, Misra, a 2018 Mitchell Scholar, will pursue a master’s degree in public health at University College Cork in Ireland before returning to the U.S. to pursue medicine.

“Having a chance to see how a different country addresses similar [public health] problems,” she says, “hopefully sets me up to keep an open mind as I try to pursue all of these things in my own career.”

She hopes to use her undergraduate and graduate education to become an effective physician who helps improve her patients’ lives. “As soon as I become comfortable [as a practicing physician], then I can start to incorporate advocacy from a really early part of my career,” she says. “I don’t want to wait until the very end to do that.”

View the full profile on MIT News.