How SPIA is helping me pursue my medical career

by Faiz Syed

One of the greatest experiences that I have had in college was interning at the Morehouse
School of Medicine for the Satcher Health Leadership Institute. Dr. David Satcher was the
Surgeon General under the Bush and Clinton administrations as well as the Director of the CDC
and it was an honor working under him. I was able to combine my passions for medicine and
world politics to do some eye-opening public health research on health disparities, specifically in
Mental Health. The coolest part of it all was that I was able to get International Affairs credit for
the internship! Did you know that over 60% of African American women have suffered from a
traumatic event whereas the rate for white women is only a fraction of that? My research delved
into the reasons behind this disparity and I was quite alarmed from what I found. I explored
environmental factors, stigma, and lack of integrated care of behavioral health in inner cities that
has resulted in this enormous health disparity.

The historical adversity that African Americans had to overcome persists even today in all
industries, including healthcare. It was so wonderful getting this experience so early on and I
know the different perspectives I was exposed will not only make me a better physician, but a
more compassionate citizen. I was also able to help contribute writing for the Manual of
Programs and Procedures (MOPP) for Project GRIT, an intervention program that will help instill
resilience in study participants (African American women who have suffered from PTSD). We
partnered with Emory University as well as Grady Hospital to build this intervention that will
begin in January of 2020. I am so excited to see the impact Project GRIT will will have on the
Atlanta community! I will cherish my summer 2019 experience forever, so I would like to thank
SPIA for supporting my learning in a setting outside of the classroom.

With the knowledge I gained this summer, I am in the midst of planning a conference on Mental
Health for high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students at UGA in the Spring of 2020.
The conference will be run by UGA’s American Mock World Health Organization (AMWHO)
team which I lead. Our mission is to develop experiences that advance the understanding of
the World Health Assembly in order to empower future leaders in global health policy. I am
hoping students at UGA as well as those at neighboring academic institutions will get an
experience like I did interning at the Morehouse School of Medicine. AMWHO is an academic
club that simulates the World Health Organization, so students (teams) from across the
southeast that will be representing a country or NGO on the topic of Mental Health. The
students (high school, undergraduate, and graduate) will spend their time discussing and
debating the topic with a goal of writing a draft resolution as they do in the World Health
Organization. We will then send that resolution to the actual World Health Organization. UGA
has some wonderful opportunities for its students and I would urge all to make the most of all
that is offered.