Chelsea Renee Geraldine Nash watched helplessly as her mother agonized in an East Bay emergency room. 

“I’m in a lot ache!” her mother cried out to the medical personnel sporting scrubs and lab coats, “Please assist me!” 

Nash, about 9 years previous, was effectively conscious of her mother’s painful, lingering well being circumstances and disliked how docs have been reacting. “One doctor after one other got here in and so they have been principally saying, ‘there’s nothing incorrect with you,’” Nash recalled. “Then they stated to my mom, ‘in case you don’t go away, we’ll have you ever escorted out.’” 

Nash, the grandchild of Nineteen Sixties Black Panther activists, suspects the mistreatment might have been race associated. She and her mother are Black, and so they by no means noticed docs who seemed like them.

However the expertise was so impactful that it grew to become a catalyst for Nash’s profession selection: She is now a second-year pupil on the UC Davis Faculty of Drugs.

“I might love to have the ability to assist folks like my mom who was damage and who has ache that always goes unnoticed or dismissed,” Nash stated. “I need to be the form of physician who will say, ‘hey, I do know your ache is legitimate and I’m going to provide the greatest care potential, even when your situation isn’t detected within the lab outcomes.’”

Portrait of medical student Chelsea Nash wearing white lab coat

I might love to have the ability to assist folks like my mom who was damage and who has ache that always goes unnoticed or dismissed. I need to be the form of physician who will say, ‘hey, I do know your ache is legitimate and I’m going to provide the greatest care potential, even when your situation isn’t detected within the lab outcomes.’”Chelsea Nash

“I didn’t suppose Black folks might be docs”

Nash was born in Berkeley and attended public colleges in Oakland till her mom, a social employee, utilized for an interdistrict switch, hoping for a greater schooling for her daughter. So, after eighth grade commencement, Nash took buses and BART to Castro Valley Excessive Faculty. 

She excelled there and started to ponder nursing — her grandmother was a licensed vocational nurse — however a buddy talked her out of it. Drugs, the buddy stated, was extra aligned with Nash’s love for analysis and her need to advocate for sufferers who’re marginalized in well being care settings.

However Nash had a tough time picturing herself as a doctor.

“I by no means noticed a Black physician, to be sincere,” she stated. “I do know it sounds silly, however I didn’t suppose Black folks might be docs.” Her reasoning? “You may’t be what you don’t see.”

Throughout her senior yr, Nash started to discover faculties within the South and on the East Coast, hoping to encompass herself with a community of African American college students.

She selected Virginia State College, a small and traditionally Black faculty. She additionally was awarded the college’s Presidential STEM scholarship, which coated 4 years of tuition, room and board. 

Nash helps manage a assist system for future medical college students

Nash fell in love with Virginia State however shortly seen a obtrusive omission: A assist system for college kids who dreamed of turning into docs. She was, in spite of everything, recruited to review for a profession rooted in science. However the faculty lacked a pre-medicine observe in its curriculum or a pre-medical student-run group. 

Nash and her mates vowed to repair that.

Chelsea Nash poses with her mother and brother
Chelsea Nash together with her mom and brother

They based the college’s chapter of the Minority Affiliation of Pre-Medical College students, or MAPS, which is the undergraduate arm of the well-known Scholar Nationwide Medical Affiliation, or SNMA. 

Subsequent, the budding leaders labored with professors to ascertain a much-needed tutorial observe for pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-physician assistant college students. 

“It felt so wonderful,” Nash stated, “we have been lastly making some adjustments and we have been lastly getting the identical worth of schooling as our counterparts in different colleges, which we deserved.” 

Constructing the MAPS chapter from scratch was laborious work, however it shortly paid off. 

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than college students linked with mentors, invited physicians to talk at their gatherings, raised funds to attend medical conferences throughout the nation and landed summer time internships. The group additionally gave them entry to tour medical colleges together with Howard College, Duke College and Jap Virginia Medical Faculty. 

“What actually moved me,” Nash stated, “is that this was the primary time that lots of college students, myself included, had ever been to a medical faculty campus.” 

The pre-med college students fashioned a decent bond over their endeavors. “There was a lot camaraderie,” Nash stated. “Our catch phrase was, if I cross, you cross, we cross and nobody will get left behind.” 

The brand-new MAPS workforce was so profitable and inspirational, it was nominated for chapter of the yr on the annual SNMA convention. 

A household tragedy sends Nash packing to the Midwest

The summer time between her junior and senior years, Nash enrolled in a aggressive, 8-week international well being internship by way of the College of Virginia in Charlottsville. She was tasked with researching public well being within the Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. 

That have propelled her to hunt a grasp’s diploma in international well being. 

After graduating from Virginia State magna cum laude in 2019 she enrolled at UCSF. Then her life took a few surprising turns – the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the world, and Nash’s mom, who was now in Indiana, was identified with Stage 3 laryngeal most cancers.

Nash shortly moved to Indiana and have become an skilled multitasker. She chauffeured her mother to radiation and chemotherapy appointments, labored on the grasp’s tasks, cooked for her mother, studied for the Medical School Admission Take a look at (MCAT), allotted medication and adjusted bandages for her mother, then studied some extra.

She succeeded in ending the diploma, and docs later declared Nash’s mom to be most cancers free.

Selecting which medical faculty to attend

Nash moved again to California the place two medical colleges prolonged presents: UCSF and UC Davis. Nash was uncertain which to decide on. 

Chelsea Nash in green graduation gown poses with friends at her Castro Valley High School graduation with balloons in background
Chelsea Nash and her supporters at her Castro Valley Excessive Faculty commencement.

“UCSF had my coronary heart, you realize, as a result of I went there for my grasp’s and it’s one of many high medical colleges within the nation,” Nash stated. However there was one thing drawing her to UC Davis, too – the sense of a tight-knit, supportive neighborhood. 

Visiting the campuses was unimaginable throughout the pandemic, so she attended Zoom conferences hosted by each colleges the place college students and school boasted about their packages. 

UC Davis, Nash recalled, gave her the vibe that college students felt their colleagues and professors cared for them. Of observe, she remembers UC Davis inside medication Professor Jorge García open up about his rocky journey by way of medical faculty, and the way he’s now able to encourage college students who get discouraged. 

Past the Zoom periods, Nash did her personal analysis. She chased down random UC Davis and UCSF college students on Twitter and direct messaged them to get their off-scripted scoop on their colleges. 

“UC Davis and UCSF are fairly comparable by way of teachers, however I needed to go someplace the place I felt like I might name somebody if I wanted assist or might be mates with my professors and have a very stable assist system,” Nash stated. 

Nash was satisfied she wanted to be at UC Davis. 

Life on the UC Davis Faculty of Drugs

Ever since coming to the Sacramento campus, Nash, who describes herself as “actually extroverted,” has been totally concerned in actions and teachers. 

She taught within the Well being Fairness Academy, the UC Davis Faculty of Drugs program that introduces schoolchildren to careers in medication. She mentored highschool college students. She grew to become the psychological well being clinic coordinator at Imani, the student-run clinic. She joined the pediatric student-run curiosity group. And she or he was elected because the social chair of SNMA. 

She’s recognized on campus for being a genuinely useful particular person. She’s additionally a trusted advocate for college kids once they want somebody to precise considerations to school on their behalf. 

“In medical expertise class, Chelsea is commonly the primary particular person to discuss what the opposite college students within the class have achieved appropriately in a simulated affected person encounter,” stated her tutorial coach, Erik Fernandez y Garcia, an affiliate professor of pediatrics. “She is extraordinarily attuned to offering optimistic reinforcement. On the similar time, her constructive suggestions is usually spot-on and necessary,” he stated. 

Nash belongs to the TEACH-MS pathway, an acronym for Remodeling Training and Neighborhood Well being for Medical College students. It’s a program that prepares a choose group of scholars to fill the scarcity of docs in city, underserved settings. 

Similar to the Oakland neighborhood she grew up in. 

“I need to work with traditionally marginalized populations, that is simply my jam,” Nash stated. “I simply I need to assist folks. I need to be just like the individuals who as soon as served me after I obtained care from Federally Certified Well being Facilities. I feel that’s my dream life.”


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