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Why I want to be an Epidemiologist

            As a small child, of maybe five or six, I know that my purpose in life was to help people. Whether it was helping an elderly woman fold clothes at the laundry mat or making a handicap person laugh, the satisfaction of knowing I did something to help that person eventually inspired me to pursue medicine. My first taste of public health came from the movie Outbreak (1995) with Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. Intrigued with their quest to find the unknown and methods of tracking the origin of that virus, I turned my attention to the area of Epidemiology. From then on, when people asked what field of medicine I wanted to go in once I finished school, I enthusiastically told them I was going to become an Epidemiologist and work for the WHO. However, once at Mount Holyoke my interest took a shift, now I was wanted to become a physician with a private practice or work in a clinic. Last summer, once again, I had a shift of interest. However, this was more than a shift, it was a revelation. .
             Last summer I arrived home with no job, no internship, and no intentions of either. Shortly after coming home my pastor's wife, a well-known and respected physician in Atlanta, put me in contact with an organization focused on the public education issues of ovarian cancer. I received the internship and immediately absorbed myself in the mission and grim reality of our health care system. As the "Know the Facts" intern my job was to reestablish an educational outreach program for Atlanta's minority women. While studying the statistics, I notice that black women had the highest morality rate yet the lowest incidence rate. Why? Was it because most of the black population in Atlanta cannot afford proper health care and general physicians or maybe it is because the diagnostic tests are so expensive and most of the insurance policies that these people have don't cover preventive medicine or tests. This simple observation led me and my co-worker, another "Know the Fact" Intern, to start our own study of health care inequality in Atlanta.

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