The messages from classmates first began to flash throughout Angelica Martin’s telephone display screen throughout well being coverage lectures early on in medical college. 

Every time the professor dove deeper into weighty subjects akin to federal laws, the notifications intensified. Martin had shortly change into the go-to, first-year scholar who might clarify in rapid-fire typing – in actual time– issues they might have forgotten from their highschool civics class. 

She liked to untangle coverage discussions and assist classmates perceive how new guidelines and rules can profit the medically underserved. 

Then, barely 4 months into her first 12 months at UC Davis College of Drugs, she took her ardour one step additional: Martin created a resourceful elective for college kids to higher comprehend their policy-based curriculum. She named her course First Help for Well being Coverage. 

The course is one among many progressive accomplishments by Martin, an aspiring surgeon in her fourth 12 months of medical college. 

“Similar to after I was youthful and served as a bridge between the sector of medication and my group,” mentioned Martin, a former teenage Spanish-English hospital interpreter, “I noticed I had the data and language to function a bridge between the sector of well being coverage and my medical college friends.” 

She added: “These are good and sensible college students who’ve the capability to vary issues. They need to vary issues.” 

Martin is on a mission to point out them how. 

Angelica Martin speaks at the podium microphone during a Health4All rally promoting health care access to every Californian
Even earlier than getting into medical college, Angelica Martin spoke fervently at rallies selling well being care entry for each Californian

Childhood in Los Angeles contains first-hand expertise with poverty

Martin spent her childhood in Echo Park, a low-resource, predominantly Latino group exterior downtown Los Angeles. 

She noticed her widowed mom, an immigrant from Nayarit, Mexico, negotiate with landlords to simply accept Part 8 housing vouchers. She spent numerous hours in group clinic ready rooms for one of many few specialists keen to simply accept Medi-Cal to deal with her brother’s bronchitis. 

In highschool, she volunteered on the native Good Samaritan Hospital, usually the one Spanish speaker within the emergency division and a significant hyperlink between physicians and sufferers. Such because the time when she relayed to a younger lady with belly ache that her child could be nice – besides the affected person had no thought she was pregnant. 

Martin constructed empathy, belief and luxury by utilizing exact intonations and physique language applicable to the affected person’s tradition. 

“I didn’t understand it on the time,” Martin recalled, “however I used to be serving to Good Samaritan present what is usually known as ‘culturally competent care.’” 

Martin attended Belmont Excessive College, the place she observed that few college students went on to varsity. Eager to see higher alternatives, she brokered a take care of the administration to launch an Superior Placement chemistry class – the college’s solely college-level science course. 

She depends on a self-proclaimed cussed streak, and pure grit, to show others flawed. Like when a highschool music trainer implied that women had been too small to take a number one position within the jazz band, as a result of he at all times assumed they couldn’t maintain notes so long as boys. 

Martin practiced further laborious to show him flawed, and it paid off. She received the position of lead alto saxophonist. The trainer apologized. 

“Simply because it hasn’t been performed,” Martin likes to say, “doesn’t imply it might’t be performed.” 

School years additional opened her eyes to well being inequities

Her tutorial drive impressed the Gates Millennium Students Program, which awarded her a full trip to Wellesley School in Massachusetts, a personal, liberal arts campus for ladies. That’s the place a public well being course opened her eyes to inequities that additional influenced her need to be a health care provider. 

As an undergrad, she co-founded Proyecto Doctoritas, a group well being program in Guatemala that promotes immunization and entry to main care suppliers. 

“What I feel is gorgeous about public well being performed proper is that it’s community-led,” Martin mentioned. “I additionally grew to understand why understanding public well being would assist me to extra successfully handle all of the systematic well being disparities that I’d witnessed since I used to be a bit of woman.” 

She graduated with two levels – biology and girls’s and gender research – then moved down the interstate to Boston College for its famend Grasp of Public Well being program

What she skilled in the course of this system was life altering. 

Martin was in search of an internship required for her masters when a pal inspired her to use for a place with the highly effective LA County supervisor, Gloria Molina. Martin, nevertheless, was repulsed on the thought. “That’s politics,” she informed her pal. “Politics has nothing to do with public well being.” In addition to, Martin argued, “politics is messy.” 

However, she took the internship. 

Advocating for the underserved and finding out for the MCAT

Angelica Martin wearing a white lab coat stands in her former office in front of a banner reading “California Physicians Alliance”
Angelica Martin was govt director of California Physicians Alliance, a gaggle of docs who assist common well being care, earlier than enrolling on the UC Davis College of Drugs

To her shock, the momentary job taught Martin that politics, public coverage and advocacy are important parts wanted to enhance the well being of the underserved. 

Now she was hooked on advocacy. 

Martin returned to Boston to complete her MPH, then accepted a full-time place in Molina’s workplace till the supervisor was termed out. Martin then took a job at California Physicians Alliance, or CaPA, a gaggle that represents progressive docs in favor of common well being care. In the course of the day she would assist college students create CaPA chapters throughout the state, whereas at evening she would examine for the Medical School Admissions Take a look at (MCAT). 

Ultimately she was promoted to affiliate director of CaPA. She additionally continued to review for – and take, and retake – the MCAT. 

She later made the choice to give up her job and deal with entering into medical college. Martin was accepted into the full-time, post-baccalaureate premed program at UC Davis. The arduous program, which provides biology curriculum and MCAT preparation abilities, is enticing to deprived college students and makes them extra aggressive candidates for med college. 

After ending the post-bacc and a stint as CaPA govt director, Martin was accepted to the UC Davis College of Drugs. It was an ideal match for a scholar keen to participate within the college’s tradition of decreasing well being disparities. That, plus, all of the advocacy alternatives on the Capitol simply three miles away. 

“I wished to be someplace the place they might assist me to change into the doctor I wished to change into,” she mentioned. 

Erik Fernández y García

She understands how damaged the well being care system is. And she or he understands, due to her background in well being care, that coverage is absolutely a number of the rationale why the well being care system is damaged.”Erik Fernández y García, affiliate professor of scientific pediatrics

A stunning revelation after enrolling at UC Davis College of Drugs

When Martin sat by means of her first well being coverage class, she observed many classmates seemed misplaced on primary political science information. 

Some college students didn’t understand how a invoice turns into regulation, whereas others didn’t perceive the construction of the well being care system. Martin was completely happy to share her data over messages and in hallways. However she wished to do extra. 

She vented to her tutorial coach, Erik Fernández y García. She informed him the College of Drugs may benefit from an introductory coverage course like those she led for CaPA on faculty campuses, which motivated college students to advocate for the underserved. 

Fernández y García provided a easy response: “OK, why don’t you try this right here?”

And, identical to that, she put collectively a syllabus, shared it with the Workplace of Medical Schooling and obtained approval to create MDS 484: First Help for Well being Coverage. 

“I feel it’s nice that she recognized a necessity and didn’t simply complain however really created one thing in a scholarly method,” mentioned Fernández y García, an affiliate professor of scientific pediatrics. “She understands how damaged the well being care system is. And she or he understands, due to her background in well being care, that coverage is absolutely a number of the rationale why the well being care system is damaged.” 

First Help for Well being Coverage is a lecture sequence at first of the college 12 months that brings a few of California’s main well being care consultants, in addition to these from the UC Davis College of Drugs to eight lunch-hour classes. The subsequent sequence begins Sept. 1. 

Featured audio system have included Sandra Hernández, the president of the California Well being Care Basis; Anthony Wright, govt director of Well being Entry; and Glennah Trochet, the previous Sacramento County Well being Officer. 

A few of the lecture subjects are: “How a invoice turns into regulation,” “Our present healthcare system,” “The construction of presidency,” and “The right way to conduct a legislative go to.” 

Medical college students obtain an elective credit score for attending six of the eight lectures in every sequence. Greater than 200 college students have attended. 

The lectures search to coach future well being care leaders the way to testify in entrance of legislators, assist grassroots actions, incorporate social determinants of well being into their scientific assessments and plans, and enhance the well being care system, particularly for many who can’t simply entry it. 

Wright, whose nonprofit Well being Entry and its basis are among the many state’s principal voices for increasing Medi-Cal, calls Martin an “spectacular chief” due to her ardour for advocacy. 

“There’s a number of essential conversations happening within the Capitol about what the well being system goes to appear to be,” Wright mentioned. “Medical college students need to have a say – to be a part of a career and a system that’s extra inclusive, equitable, and extra inexpensive.” 

Wright labored with Martin, when she served as govt director of CaPA, to deliver busloads of Health4All coalition advocates to the Capitol to rally for well being care for each Californian, together with those that are undocumented. He says Martin is a part of a brand new technology of politically energetic college students rising impatient with the established order and craving change. 

Martin, he mentioned, is now on the proper place, on the proper time. 

“UC Davis has a novel perch, being so near the Capitol of the most important state within the nation, to make a distinction,” Wright mentioned. “I’m glad she’s making the most of it together with her personal voice and attempting to herald her fellow college students as properly.” 

Anthony Wright

UC Davis has a novel perch, being so near the Capitol of the most important state within the nation, to make a distinction. I’m glad she’s making the most of it together with her personal voice and attempting to herald her fellow college students as properly.” Anthony Wright, govt director, Well being Entry

Bold accomplishments throughout medical college

As if planning a lecture sequence wasn’t sufficient to maintain Martin busy throughout the rigors of medical college, she’s additionally managed to become involved in a number of initiatives associated to advocacy, on and off campus. 

She and different college students helped revive the college’s dormant CaPA chapter. She’s additionally been a part of Organized Drugs, which is aligned with the Sacramento Sierra Valley Medical Society (for which she served because the UC Davis scholar consultant). 

She has obtained quite a few honors and accolades, together with most just lately a 2022 Excellence in Public Well being Award from the U.S. Public Well being Service

Angelica Martin, in medical scrubs, stands at the operating table before a thoracic surgery procedure at UC Davis Medical Center
Angelica Martin, an aspiring surgeon, learns the way to put together a da Vinci robotic earlier than a thoracic surgical procedure process at UC Davis Medical Middle

As well as, Martin is a scholar in TEACH-MS, the aggressive UC Davis medical college pathway for college kids set on caring for sufferers in city underserved communities. 

Martin appears to be like ahead to this closing 12 months of faculty, when she’ll expertise scientific rotations at UC Davis Medical Middle and different hospitals whereas additionally interviewing for surgical residency applications. She hopes to advocate for insurance policies that make it simpler for medically underserved sufferers to entry surgical procedures. 

When she appears to be like into the long run, Martin sees optimism for sufferers in want of well being care, because of a brand new technology of socially aware doctors-to-be. “Everybody deserves to dwell with dignity,” she mentioned. 

She doesn’t neglect the place she got here from. And she or he’s grateful for many who helped her get to the place she is. 

“I have been lucky to have had mentors who modeled the act of envisioning a future which may not but exist,” she mentioned. “It is my objective to do the identical for others.”


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