April 14, 2011
By Deepa Rani Nandiwada
So many of us go into health care bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and with a mission to change the world by taking care of the underserved. Then we go through medical school. Afterwards, we are not only tired, but we are also in debt greater than anything we had ever imagined. For even the staunchest believers in social justice, it is daunting to hold onto our idealism under such circumstances. Across the nation, there has been a student-based movement to stay more connected with these ideals during medical school through student-run free clinics.
Before I started medical school, I spent a year volunteering full time with Americorps in the South Bronx. I saw firsthand the impact that healthcare had on my students and their families. These were vulnerable patients for whom healthcare was a luxury, not an expectation. When I entered George Washington University (GWU) School of Medicine in 2006, my dream was to go back and make an impact on these patients’ lives both through primary care and through health policy. But as I progressed through medical school, multiple choice letters swimming through my head, the faces that inspired me started to fade into the background, and I knew that I needed something more to keep me going.