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Abiba Salahou, M.D., has lengthy been committed to public well being and advocacy in no way searching for or anticipating to earn any higher-level recognition for her operate.

Having said that, Salahou lately was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Public Wellness Award from the U.S. Public Wellness Service Doctor Skilled Advisory Committee. She was formally acknowledged for this honor at 2023’s Honors Convocation on Could 11.

Salahou mentioned that she was “surprised” and “honored” to have received the award.

“I wasn’t truly expecting it, just for the reason that I know there are lots of truly remarkable classmates right here that do a lot of volunteer operate in the neighborhood and are also carrying out a lot of wonderful initiatives…any 1 of us could have effortlessly deserved the similar award,” she mentioned. “It was absolutely a quite pleasant surprise. I’m exceptionally honored as nicely.”

“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 suitable just before beginning residency has been truly unique, for the reason that I absolutely want to continue that operate 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 thrilling day exactly where she found she matched in psychiatry at Yale University.

“It was a phenomenal day, absolutely the very best day of my med college profession for certain,” she mentioned.

Addressing the barriers
Salahou’s 1st exposure to the health-related field was when she was increasing up in Syracuse, N.Y. She would accompany her grandmother on trips to the medical professional to translate for her from English to Yoruba.

“Seeing firsthand the differential remedy that she would get as a non-English-speaking patient was truly striking to me,” mentioned Salahou.

“It produced me interested in well being care disparities and figuring out why it is that we have so considerably well being care inequity,” she added. “And why items like language barriers build such a massive gap in care for sufferers.”

Abiba Salahou was all smiles on Match Day.

Also, she credits increasing up in an urban atmosphere for exposing her to the disparities in well being care. Salahou spent time volunteering with regional refugee organizations in New York and in Nicaragua when she was an undergraduate student.

“(In Nicaragua) I was capable to spot the public well being context inside a bigger international scale and appear at all the items that I was seeing increasing up in New York and contrast that to what I was seeing overseas,” she mentioned. “It solidified my interest (in medicine).”

All round, 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 nicely as growing awareness and shedding light onto the daily plights and challenges that come about, specially inside marginalized and underserved communities,” mentioned Salahou.

“Medicine is truly 1 of the most ideal fields to address this problem,” she added. “We’re uniquely positioned as health-related students for the reason that on the 1 hand, we have that viewpoint, becoming members of the neighborhood ourselves, but then we’re also mastering alongside physicians and other health-related students and obtaining to see firsthand how the health-related method is functioning.”

Time at OUWB
Right after Salahou graduated from Bard College with a degree in biology, she wanted to discover a health-related college that aligned with her values and interests, especially in neighborhood organization and activism. She discovered that OUWB was the spot that checked her boxes.

“When I was interviewing at health-related schools, I was truly paying interest 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 spot to get students involved in neighborhood service.

“It truly seemed like the concentrate on neighborhood service wasn’t just for show on (OUWB’s) web page, but one thing that was heavily prioritized,” mentioned Salahou. “Being a student right here, it really is been so quick to tap into regional organizations and get involved for the reason that there are currently so a lot of neighborhood partnerships…so I consider that the emphasis and concentrate on neighborhood service ended up becoming correct.”

Salahou’s history of involvement at OUWB and the surrounding neighborhood is extensive— through her 4 years at the institution, she has been involved with numerous student organizations. She joined the Psychiatry Interest Group in 2021, and served as the M3 student representative and analysis liaison. In this group, she established a analysis element of the group to get students involved in the analysis aspect of psychiatry.

Salahou had been a aspect of the Student National Health-related Association given that 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 made programming on campus to educate health-related students about the challenges minority sufferers and students face. Other student groups she was involved with and held leadership positions in include things like the Pediatric Interest Group, Mental Wellness Advocates Group, and Family members Medicine Interest Group.

Outdoors of OUWB, Salahou has been involved with numerous neighborhood organizations, like Lighthouse of Oakland County.

“I’ve worked truly closely (with them) to build a longitudinal analysis project evaluating how emotional distress through the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted emotional distress amongst meals insecure people living in southeast Michigan,” she mentioned.

Alongside that analysis, Salahou made a virtual mental well being toolkit for neighborhood members.

What Salahou is most proud of, even so, is the get in touch with-to-action she made 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 1-on-1 with faculty members…and brainstorm how we can improved enhance the diversity inside the curriculum and improved enhance our conversation about a lot of the public well being challenges that I felt weren’t becoming adequately addressed,” she mentioned. “I also had a lot of assistance from other classmates of mine that have been equally passionate.”

“(We) made an in depth document that outlines the strategies in which we wanted OUWB to address our core eight actions products, like items like enhancing the preclinical curriculum to improve conversations about race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and items like that,” she added. “(An additional action item was) to enhance the representation of numerous patient groups inside our clinical teaching…we also had conversations about growing racial diversity inside the student physique itself.”

In response to the document, Salahou mentioned that “pretty substantial curriculum changes” have been produced, like new lectures in the pre-clinical curriculum and the creation of a get in touch with-to-action process force. She was also involved in developing a report auditing the lectures at OUWB to see how a lot of occasions subjects associated to diversity, equity, and inclusion have been talked about, which was then presented at national conferences.

Hunting ahead to her residency, Salahou mentioned that the similar values that guided her to OUWB guided her to Yale.

“At Yale, there is 1 of the couple of psychiatry applications in the nation that is truly identified for their social justice and neighborhood mental well being operate. Inside the system, they have a entire social justice and anti-racism curriculum,” she mentioned. “That straight spoke to me.”

“I consider it came complete circle…I really feel like I am nevertheless pinching myself each and every time I consider about residency, but I’m exceptionally excited and honored to be capable to train there, and super excited to continue becoming involved and passionate about advocating for marginalized patient populations.”

To request an interview, stop by the OUWB Communications &amp Marketing webpage.

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