Name: Allison Draper Hometown: Puyallup, Washington University: Duke University Graduation Year: 2016 Major: Biology, minors in chemistry and global health Site: Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville
What’s your role at your host site? – I serve as a health care medical assistant and health coach. My clinical role as a health care medical assistant includes collecting patient vitals, processing patient paperwork and referrals and scheduling. In my community role as a health coach I partner with patients to make lasting health behavior changes by creating goals, identifying barriers and assessing manageable actions steps.
Where / how did your interest in health develop? – When I was twelve I was diagnosed with prematurely aggravated genetic arthritis in my third and fourth lumbar vertebra. My arthritis could not be cured but I could learn how to treat my symptoms and prevent flare ups. I was referred to physical therapy, but I immediately hated it. I was a stubborn independent twelve year old that did not like someone else moving my body. I was a noncompliant patient because of this and ended up switching therapists often. It was not until my fifth physical therapist that someone listened to me and offered an alternative - yoga. I went to my first class when I was sixteen years old and was immediately hooked.
My experience with alternative healing led me to my Global Health minor at Duke University where I actively pursued a greater understanding of the way culture, spirituality and environment affected health. In my sophomore year of undergrad I had the opportunity to shadow surgeons at Baylor Medical Center. Later the next year Nicaragua I served in a rural clinic taking vitals and patient histories. Both opportunities provided me with crucial, yet very different patient interactions and strengthened my desire to go into medicine. I knew that I wanted to use medicine to try to understand stories and people.
I have learned from my own journey with arthritis that there is no one correct way to heal. I will manage my chronic back pain for the rest of my life, but now I feel in control, because a medical provider decided to listen to a stubborn twelve year old girl. I want to be the provider that listens, and gives validity to personal experience, instead of just symptoms.
Why did you choose MedServe? –
Duke has given me countless amazing opportunities. In addition to its renowned education, Duke gave me the opportunity to apply my education abroad in Costa Rica and India.
Never have I been more humbled than when a 72-year-old man invited me into his dirt-floor shack to share a cup of coffee and talk about his previous bouts of dengue. My work with lower income populations in Costa Rica was primarily for a one-month research project. My research provided helpful recommendations for the Costa Rican health system, but I couldn’t help but feel the limits of my short commitment. I often found myself saying, “If only I had more time…”
I will never forget a woman named Pooja that invited me into her home in Chandelao Village. While showing me Khejri seeds she asked me what jobs women held in my home village. She told me that I was lucky to be so independent. I could go anywhere I wanted. She, on the other hand, was afraid to send her daughters out of the village for fear of the social repercussions.
I am overwhelmed by the opportunities I have had in my short life. I am at a critical point in my independence where I can do anything, and go anywhere I want. Duke has given me the opportunity to learn from the world, but now I want to bring my experiences home. I am taking a deep breath before medical school, two years in fact, because I want to have time. The MedServe fellowship provides me with the structure and support to make a difference with that time. I am excited for the opportunity to work for, and with my own neighbors, in my own “home village”, as Pooja curiously referred to it.
What are your plans after MedServe? – In medical school, I hope. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? – Third year of medical school Where do you see yourself 5 years after that? – Residency. Once I’m established, I could see myself having my own practice. Something team-based that brings together a lot of different specialties. I’m not quite sure of the details of where I am going with my life but I believe in IFMA and MedServe’s mission, and that we are heading together towards a common goal. I know that if I am part of a practice with a similar common mission, I’ll be fine