ARCHES 2021 Blog

Week 4 | Halfway There – Abigail Boateng

So far, I have enjoyed my ARCHES experience. I’ve learned so much through the research, Friday workshops, and MCAT prep sessions. The MCAT prep sessions have been quite helpful. Namely, they have helped me find the best method of study and strategize for the MCAT. Meanwhile, my research experience has been both challenging and enjoyable. My research is focused on women that have HIV in DC and their decision-making process. To that end, I have been writing many literature reviews on HIV in the capital city with a focus on determining which factors promote positive decision-making interaction between patients and physicians and which promote negative interaction. The findings have been eye-opening to say the least. As a prospective physician, learning about physicians expectations from patients and vice versa through the workshops has been helpful in my knowledge of the proper ways to interact with my future patients.

Particularly, I have learned that it is essential to include patient autonomy in decision-making as a physician. It ensures that the patient feels heard and included in decisions about their health. Secondly, communication and understanding the social-economic status of the patient are imperative components of a relationship between patient-physician. Understanding these factors will help me better understand my patient’s circumstances and better assist them.

As a future medical doctor, my goal is not to only treat a patient but to also understand that they are individuals with autonomy. To understand it, I need to recognize and acknowledge their diverse background and circumstances. My experience in ARCHES so far has been instrumental in my understanding of how to do that.

Week 3 | Halfway There – Evelyn Juarez-Parra

We are now halfway through the 2021 ARCHES fellowship, and it couldn’t be a more surreal feeling. It has been an honor seeing how much my ARCHES fellows have grown and how much growth I’ve personally had since last summer’s fellowship. So far, I’ve conducted speech production research with Dr. Max Reisenhuber lab, who is in the works of determining what neural networks are responsible for the linkage between speech perception and speech production. I’ve also been meeting with SHAPE mentor, Julisa, who has been an amazing guide throughout my secondary-application writing.  In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor GEP students on college readiness advice, which ended up being intensely rewarding and heart-warming. The professional development sessions that we’ve had on Fridays continue to nourish my mind with the inequities in healthcare that involve underserved and minority populations, especially during the pandemic. Learning about such disparities further fuels my desire to become a physician and advocate for policy change that will benefit our most vulnerable members of society, with the hopes of decreasing healthcare disparities one day and one patient at a time.

I think back to our first summer with Georgetown and how I felt as though a new door was being opened for me – a door with opportunities that I couldn’t even wrap my head around at the moment. Undoubtedly, the ARCHES program has been a tremendous blessing in my life and on my pre-med journey.

I am now, proudly, a graduate from Northern New Mexico College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, confidently applying to medical schools, and optimistic that I am even closer to accomplishing my life-long dream of becoming a physician. Thanks to ARCHES and all the mentors I’ve met throughout the program, that dream is slowly but surely becoming a reality.

Second Year Soar – Isaiah Osei-Gyening 

The ARCHES program has provided me with a network filled with mentors and friendships that will follow me, while on my journey to becoming a physician. Whether it is through our wellness check ins, our ODEI huddles every monday or the combined sessions with the GEP and CORE fellows, I continue to grow closer to the GUSOM community. The ARCHES program has continued to provide me with resources such as MCAT prep, mentorship opportunities, and sessions with the faculty at GUSOM. It is through these resources, where I find myself strengthening and developing old and new skills that will bring me close to my goal.

The lessons I have taken away from physicians, deans and the medical students’ experiences have allowed me to create a better image of the type of physician I will become.

This summer I have the opportunity to work in the Albanese lab under the supervision of Dr. Chris Albanese and Dr. Olga Rodriguez. Working under their supervision has been enlightening as I am discussing topics on oncology that I was not previously exposed to. Our discussion is mostly based around breast cancer and the effect treatments like chemotherapy may have on a patient’s cognition. By the end of the summer, I hope to familiarize myself with breast cancer as well as the influence of certain social or biological determinants that may lead to health

disparities within some communities.

Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Albanese support during my time in their lab has helped me grow as a researcher as I begin to develop a more critically analytical perspective. When first entering their lab they accepted me and my questions with open arms as they were eager to help me build a greater understanding of their research topic. My experience being a team member of the Albanese lab reinforced the idea that the ARCHES program offers an environment where I am encouraged and supported to embrace their flaws and strive to become people who achieve their goals. The mentors and faculty of the ARCHES program have created a community that encourages scholars to be bold thinkers who advocate for themselves and allow for their actions to speak louder than words.

Week 2 | Getting Back Into ARCHES – Myana Banks 

This summer, I have been working with Dr. Edilma Yearwood to discuss health initiatives that will improve health outcomes in the district, with a focus on adverse childhood experiences. One population I have decided to focus on is that of migrant children and how their journey to the U.S. can have a variety of different outcomes on their state of health (physical, emotional, mental, etc). My goal with this project is to develop a resource for parents of migrant children that explains the implications this traumatic experience may have on their child and how to prevent this from affecting their health later on in life. I hope to use my experience doing this research to establish a better understanding of the troubles that migrant communities face. I believe it is important to educate oneself about experiences outside of their own so that they can use it when accessing their own racial bias when providing care for vulnerable populations. 

Entering another year of ARCHES is so exhilarating. I am excited to see my ARCHES cohort again, interact with guest speakers, and to generally learn more about being a trailblazer in the health field. ARCHES changed my life Summer 2020, during a year of uncertainty and frustration due to the pandemic. I am so grateful ODEI has decided to take us on again, giving this cohort a chance to conduct research under amazing research supervisors. This summer I hope to gain experiences relevant to my journey to medicine – the research component being the biggest piece! I also hope to learn more about taking the MCAT & practice strategies concerning the exam. In addition, I hope to experience more confidence in my career path that medicine is for me because imposter syndrome definitely creeps in a lot to try to tell me otherwise!

With all new experiences, there are doubts and feelings of nervousness. Being a recent college graduate (Aggie Pride!!!!), starting a new job, and conducting research makes me a little nervous that I will burn out but I hope to make sure to take adequate time for myself this summer to ensure I put in the right amount of self-care! Additionally, the capstone itself is a bit intimidating due to fear of public speaking but since last summer I have gotten so much better with speaking to large crowds of people due to the variety of platforms that ARCHES provided for us to discuss things via zoom. 

I am ready for all that ARCHES has to show me. Bring it on!

Week 1 | Getting Back Into ARCHES- Austin Lin

The second year of ARCHES means more than a family reunion with the fellows and the ODEI team. It is also an opportunity, as quoted from Dean Cheng, for us to “reinvent ourselves”. Therefore, for this year I have three goals hoping to be accomplished through the support of my mentors from Georgetown. First, I wish to reframe my motivation in medicine to prepare for my personal statement and secondary essays. Specifically, I want to dive deeper into my past and search for my authentic self that contains the answer of how I wish to contribute to my community, either as a M.D. or a PhD. Secondly, ODEI has delivered us with the precious gift of study supplies and tutor for MCAT. Thus, I look forward to reigniting my journey of studying for the most prominent test of my life thus far. Lastly, I am confident that I have the ability to continue fostering the existing network and even make connections with the Boston community, where I will be working for my Post-baccerature fellowship at McLean Hospital. Although, I personally will not be conducting summer research due to time conflict with my fellowship, I am excited to hear the projects that my peers will be investigating. For this summer, I think the biggest challenge for me will be time management by balancing ARCHES, starting a new job, studying for MCAT, and self-care. 

Racism and discrmination are systemic, it takes both the bottom-up and the top-down approach to dismantle such injustice. From my perspective, the adversities brought by systemic racism has often result in intergenerational trauma in minority communities. And, as demonstrated by my research from last summer, poverty and mental illness formulate a positive feedback loop that keeps children of underserved communities continue to be oppressed. In contrast, I desire to see a world with universal education in emotional intelligence and regulation, which could protect children and adolescence from substance use disorder and suicidal behaviors. As an agent of change, I will be working as a community residence counselor that educates adolescents from low-income communities about cognitive behavioral therapy. I further hope to carry this knowledge and experience into medicine, because I believe treatment that is based on a biopsychosocial model of care are much more effective than simply prescribing pills.