Abiba Salahou, M.D., has extended been committed to public wellness and advocacy in no way looking for or anticipating to earn any higher-level recognition for her perform.
Nevertheless, Salahou not too long ago was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Public Wellness Award from the U.S. Public Wellness Service Doctor Expert Advisory Committee. She was formally acknowledged for this honor at 2023’s Honors Convocation on May perhaps 11.
Salahou mentioned that she was “surprised” and “honored” to have received the award.
“I wasn’t actually expecting it, just simply because I know there are lots of actually incredible classmates right here that do a lot of volunteer perform in the neighborhood and are also undertaking a lot of excellent initiatives…any one particular of us could have very easily deserved the similar award,” she mentioned. “It was undoubtedly a pretty pleasant surprise. I’m incredibly honored as effectively.”
“It was good to have some recognition that supports how deeply I care about enhancing the communities that I’m going to be serving,” added Salahou.
“Having that recognition ideal prior to beginning residency has been actually unique, simply because I undoubtedly want to continue that perform as a doctor.”
She received the e mail informing her that she would be getting the award the similar day as Match Day, adding to the currently fascinating day exactly where she found she matched in psychiatry at Yale University.
“It was a phenomenal day, undoubtedly the greatest day of my med college profession for certain,” she mentioned.
Addressing the barriers
Salahou’s initially exposure to the health-related field was when she was developing up in Syracuse, N.Y. She would accompany her grandmother on trips to the physician to translate for her from English to Yoruba.
“Seeing firsthand the differential therapy that she would get as a non-English-speaking patient was actually striking to me,” mentioned Salahou.
“It produced me interested in wellness care disparities and figuring out why it is that we have so a great deal wellness care inequity,” she added. “And why items like language barriers build such a enormous gap in care for individuals.”
Abiba Salahou was all smiles on Match Day.
Moreover, she credits developing up in an urban atmosphere for exposing her to the disparities in wellness care. Salahou spent time volunteering with nearby refugee organizations in New York and in Nicaragua when she was an undergraduate student.
“(In Nicaragua) I was capable to location the public wellness context inside a bigger international scale and appear at all the items that I was seeing developing up in New York and contrast that to what I was seeing overseas,” she mentioned. “It solidified my interest (in medicine).”
General, she mentioned she finds medicine to be a field suited to advocating for marginalized populations.
“What I am most passionate about is enhancing the circumstances and the communities that I see about me as effectively as rising awareness and shedding light onto the every day plights and challenges that occur, specifically inside marginalized and underserved communities,” mentioned Salahou.
“Medicine is actually one particular of the most best fields to address this situation,” she added. “We’re uniquely positioned as health-related students simply because on the one particular hand, we have that viewpoint, getting members of the neighborhood ourselves, but then we’re also finding out alongside physicians and other health-related students and having to see firsthand how the health-related technique is operating.”
Time at OUWB
Soon after Salahou graduated from Bard College with a degree in biology, she wanted to obtain a health-related college that aligned with her values and interests, especially in neighborhood organization and activism. She discovered that OUWB was the location that checked her boxes.
“When I was interviewing at health-related schools, I was actually paying consideration to the schools that talked about neighborhood service, wanted students to get involved and be engaged, and wanted students to be involved in these conversations,” she mentioned.
Throughout her interview with OUWB, she was struck by the initiatives in location to get students involved in neighborhood service.
“It actually seemed like the concentrate on neighborhood service wasn’t just for show on (OUWB’s) web-site, but some thing that was heavily prioritized,” mentioned Salahou. “Being a student right here, it is been so uncomplicated to tap into nearby organizations and get involved simply because there are currently so quite a few neighborhood partnerships…so I assume that the emphasis and concentrate on neighborhood service ended up getting correct.”
Salahou’s history of involvement at OUWB and the surrounding neighborhood is extensive— for the duration of her 4 years at the institution, she has been involved with many student organizations. She joined the Psychiatry Interest Group in 2021, and served as the M3 student representative and study liaison. In this group, she established a study element of the group to get students involved in the study aspect of psychiatry.
Salahou had been a aspect of the Student National Healthcare Association because 2020 and served on the group’s executive board, exactly where she took aspect in organizing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Wellness Fair at Chandler Park Academy Higher College and produced programming on campus to educate health-related students about the challenges minority individuals and students face. Other student groups she was involved with and held leadership positions in contain the Pediatric Interest Group, Mental Wellness Advocates Group, and Family members Medicine Interest Group.
Outdoors of OUWB, Salahou has been involved with many neighborhood organizations, such as Lighthouse of Oakland County.
“I’ve worked actually closely (with them) to build a longitudinal study project evaluating how emotional distress for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted emotional distress amongst meals insecure folks living in southeast Michigan,” she mentioned.
Alongside that study, Salahou produced a virtual mental wellness toolkit for neighborhood members.
What Salahou is most proud of, even so, is the get in touch with-to-action she produced in 2020.
“I led the initiative to build a get in touch with-to-action, anti-racism initiative at the health-related college that consisted of meeting one particular-on-one particular with faculty members…and brainstorm how we can greater improve the diversity inside the curriculum and greater improve our conversation about a lot of the public wellness troubles that I felt weren’t getting adequately addressed,” she mentioned. “I also had a lot of enable from other classmates of mine that have been equally passionate.”
“(We) produced an comprehensive document that outlines the approaches in which we wanted OUWB to address our core eight actions things, such as items like enhancing the preclinical curriculum to boost conversations about race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and items like that,” she added. “(An additional action item was) to improve the representation of many patient groups inside our clinical teaching…we also had conversations about rising racial diversity inside the student physique itself.”
In response to the document, Salahou mentioned that “pretty substantial curriculum changes” have been produced, such as new lectures in the pre-clinical curriculum and the creation of a get in touch with-to-action activity force. She was also involved in building a report auditing the lectures at OUWB to see how quite a few instances subjects connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion have been talked about, which was then presented at national conferences.
Searching ahead to her residency, Salahou mentioned that the similar values that guided her to OUWB guided her to Yale.
“At Yale, there is one particular of the couple of psychiatry applications in the nation that is actually recognized for their social justice and neighborhood mental wellness perform. Inside the plan, they have a complete social justice and anti-racism curriculum,” she mentioned. “That straight spoke to me.”
“I assume it came complete circle…I really feel like I am nonetheless pinching myself each time I assume about residency, but I’m incredibly excited and honored to be capable to train there, and super excited to continue getting involved and passionate about advocating for marginalized patient populations.”
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