Sravani: healthcare

How would you go about improving access to healthcare in this country, especially to underserved communities?

My story begins in a small hospital room, thousands of miles away from home. I was eight years old, spending a summer day with my grandmother at her medical office in rural India. Just as my grandmother was winding up for the day, a man came rushing in with his extremely distressed wife, who was 32 weeks pregnant. Immediately, the woman was examined and rushed into an urgent C-section. Within a few hours, an infant was born and transported to a nearby NICU. A few weeks had passed before the same woman returned to my grandmother’s clinic, with a facial expression opposite to the one she had a few weeks prior. Her tears of joy expressed her immense gratitude that she had for my grandmother, for saving her newborn child and her family. At this tender age, seeing the compassion and commitment that my grandmother had for her patients planted a seed of desire within me to practice medicine and foster hope and joy in the lives of others, just as my grandmother had done for the past 40 years.

Since the age of 12, I have volunteered at various medical camps organized to provide free healthcare services to underserved populations. My original assignment at these events was to babysit young children; however, as time progressed, I began to take on more responsibilities with respect to patient care. I have participated in every aspect of these medical camps: from checking in patients to measuring their vitals, serving as a Spanish translator, and assisting volunteer optometrists.  Participating in these camps allowed me to see the healthcare disparity within my own community. I began to realize that many people lacked access to basic medical care to live healthy lives. During these camps, hundreds of people would arrive early in the morning and stand in line for hours to get a blood sugar reading, or their vision checked. It was not until my undergraduate years that I understood why these medical camps were immensely needed within my community. These people saw an opportunity to receive the medical attention they were in dire need of and unable to access otherwise. These experiences have affirmed my motivation to gain the knowledge necessary to serve this underserved community. 

…as an aspiring podiatric physician, I hope to bring forth podiatric medicine to these camps.

Upon the start of college, I sought various opportunities to shadow different medical specialties to better understand the medical profession. During the summer vacation of my freshman year, I began shadowing Dr. Reddy, an endocrinologist in Arcadia, California. Through my interactions with him that summer, I witnessed the prevalence of diabetes throughout the community and the importance of seeking proper diabetic foot care. It was Dr. Reddy who introduced me to the world of podiatric medicine, as he truly believed that receiving proper podiatric care helped prevent the progression of peripheral neuropathy in many of his patients. As I began to shadow more podiatric physicians, I realized that many diabetic patients within my community were unable to access proper foot care due to lack of health insurance and financial restraints. After speaking with many of the patients at the medical camps, I noticed that a vast majority were receiving medical care sparingly. They were also unaware of the importance of proper foot care in preventing and treating peripheral neuropathy. Therefore, as an aspiring podiatric physician, I hope to bring forth podiatric medicine to these camps. This will not only allow for free care to be provided to the rapidly rising diabetic population within the underserved region of my community but also allow for the necessary patient education needed to promote the importance of podiatric medicine in treating and managing diabetes.

Sravani Alla

Western University College of Podiatric Medicine