AMSA UC Berkeley Environmental Justice Panel Discussion: I Got To Tell Them About Amin
April 16, 2021
I’m at bag #432 today lifetime plogging totals. At 9am Pacific Standard Time, but 12pm Eastern Time – the Sustainable Pharmacy Project Student group from VCU is having their #lesslittermorehealth unveil for their winners. I’m their spiritual voluntary non-university affiliated faculty advisor! I offered to fund their project but they found money! They are great students. I think this summer I need to travel out to Virginia to visit them, as my sister also lives nearby and I actually own a rental house there. So we are really connected through litter, healthcare and real estate. Bag #433 will be around the Residence Inn at the Marriot in Temecula. We are finishing our short vacation in Temecula Wine Country and it has been a good break. We went to three wineries yesterday, bought some local gifts for our son’s friends, ate great pizza outside socially distanced, appreciated sustainable traveling and marveled at all the trees and pollinator friendly plants around the wineries. We even went to the Walmart across the street, and I bought a Vegan Instapot approved cookbook and a romance novel. I read a lot less romance novels these days because I enjoy blogging so much, but I bought one and I’ll read it later today. We played card games last night, and I was able to teach my daughter spit/speed which is a game every child should know how to play.
I mostly was able to disconnect from work, but did make one call into our secretary to check on a new per diem physician. Otherwise I kept things turned off and only checked my patient messages once and within 15 minures, was able to deal with all my patient results, messages, emails and concerns. That is what a clear and focused mind can do these days. I was also able to reply to a male colleage that no longer would the women physicians do the gynecology needs of his teenage patients automatically. It would now be returned to the male providers. It was never fair that automatically having the male pediatricians pass on all contraceptive concerns to the female providers. These are complex and time-intensive concerns, that should be cared for by whoever the primary pediatrician is whether it be male or female. We really don’t do pelvic exams in pediatrics anymore. It was a stark realization for me that for over a decade, doing all these contraceptive visits for male providers actually harms women’s careers. Not that patients are litter, but it is the same concept of dumping your trash on someone else’s property. Time talking over these complex concerns, means less time for women pediatricians to care for their own panels. And that is how we are measured, on the quality metrics of our own paneled patients. This is why few women were in leadership positions prior. The uncompensated work was given to women but not the plum committee positions. Planning the parties, doing contraceptive visits for non-paneled patients, “teaching” without the titles or the time, answering the nurses concerns (because the nurses always come to the women as many men put up barriers to answering these questions). The saving grace for me is that my father is in businessman and an accountant. When I saw a slightly older male physician receive a bonus for the work I did, I was livid. I did not need the money, as we are FISE (Financially Independent and will Save the Earth). It was the principal of it. That bonus money I could have donated to the rainforest trust. I had justly earned it and through dishonestly (indirect) someone else had received that bonus. That taught me very early on, who to trust and to look out for my own career trajectory. And that includes making sure other young women are fairly treated in departmental politics. It’s a whole new world, and it felt very good to send my beloved colleague the message that please stop by and ask us women the gynecology questions – but that the burden of taking care of the complete health of the female teen patient would remain with him. If he wanted to ask advice, I would be more than happy to give.
And when you have more time and not unfairly given the unpaid work that women are often given at work, you have time for career advancement, your own wellness or just doing whatever it is that you want. It’s your time. And so with all my time now that I’m fundamentally well and middle-aged and in middle-management and won’t take people’s cr@p anymore, is that I go speak to students. I speak to a lot of groups now. I don’t necessarily seek these out. It doesn’t give me a rush, but instead afterwards when I am contacted by students who now want to work on climate – I know this is what I’m meant to do. I have little understanding why I’m more approachable and folks want me to stop by to talk. I think it’s just because I am who I am. But I know I’m moving the climate movement forward speaking with student groups and telling my odd story. While we were on the panel of four climate change and health physicians, I was interacting with friends on the panel. We’re putting on a show though, but it’s a true show and it’s fun.
Yesterday I made time to speak to the UC Berkeley Premed Students that are part of AMSA (which I think is the American Medical Student Association?). It was a panel discussion on Environmental Justice, attended by about 30 premedical students and it was the four members of Climate Actions Campaign Public Health Advsisory Committee (PHAC). It’s kind of an odd acronym. PHAC like you Pee and you Hack out a piece of mucus. But it works! My fellow panelist talked about environment and climate. Plant-based eating. Clean air and bills that we are trying to get passed in the legislature. I added my part and the projects I’ve been working on.
But the best part is before the panel discussion started, I told the entire AMSA UC Berkeley premed student group the story of a kid named Amin from UC Berkeley that went to Harvard Medical School and I think graduated in 2003 with us. LOL. That is the best thing about this journey. I just go where the flow of the earth takes me, and the earth took me to Berkeley last night. I told the UC Berkeley students a story that I’ve been telling my patients and that has been bouncing around my irreverent brain for years.
Harvard Medical School is a top tiered medical school. Getting into Harvard Medical School from Harvard College is much easier than getting in from a state university. That is just the reality at most schools. Your affiliated undergraduate is often a feeder into your professional or graduate programs. That is what happened to me. I went to Harvard College and I was smart, but not uber smart. I went to Harvard Medical School to join my boyfriend who was also a Harvard College graduate already at Harvard Medical School, the famous and very handsome in a middle-aged way Mr. Plastic Picker. From the University of California campuses, there were usually just a handul of kids who were admitted to Harvard Medical School. Honestly, did they even want to go? UCSF is a nice medical school. But that is the story we told ourselves as a medical school class. We noticed 2 kids from UCSD, 2 kids from UCLA, 2 kids from UC Berkeley, 2 kids from UCI ect ect. It seemed too mathematical. The two kids from our class from UC Berkeley were really smart. The Harvard kids were kind of intimidated, also by the undergraduates from John Hopkins. They seemed like gunners. They had fought their way through a tough premed pool to make it to the same place, and us??? We were living easy lives going to posh events and being told at every stage in our undergraduate careers that we were destined for greatness and were essentially the second coming of Christ to medicine. That is the key to the success and failures of Harvard students. You are told you are great at every step of your schooling. Trust me, I know. I was a premedical advisor there and that is what I did for our students, and they actually were for the most part great and did very well in life.
But the UC Berkeley students. Amin. This kid was smart and he ended up going into radiology, a very difficult field to match in. But the funny thing about Amin is he always showed up late for class. Now I know why. Hanging out with UC Berkeley students through our student co-founder and now participating in the second panel, I realize they have a seven minute understanding at Berkeley. When a class starts at 8, it really starts at 807. I think that’s why Amin kept on showing up for medical school class late. But he would also show up for exams late as well. This is when all almost 150 medical students would sit in the lecture hall taking written exams. And every exam, he would come later and later. Until one exam, I forget when, he showed up literally half way through the exam. We always knew he did well, and the system was pass /fail the first year anyway. But at this particular exam morning, literally the entire class looked at Amin – kid from UC Berkeley perpetually late – stroll into the lecture hall obviously having just awoken. The entire class started in good nature applauding. The entire lecture hall, like all of us. And then Amin, with his touseled dark hair (remember I read romance novels) smirked at us and literally bowed. I’m pretty sure he probably scored top on that exam. And that is th story I got to tell the UC Berkeley students yesterday about their super-smart colleague from many years ago that I met at Harvard Medical School.
Hope this is okay? Proof that I was at the AMSA UC Berkeley Premed Panel talking about Enviornmental Justice. I hope they were inspired. I have 5 new instagram followers from last night! But our awesome student co-founder Vivian. And fun that I got to tell them about Amin. LOL.