Alix Heyes '14

Monday, March 6, 2017

My choice to major in ICS is an essential part of becoming the type of doctor that we need in today's globalized world. My focus is Africa, where the global health fight has been concentrated for the past decade or more. This is also where malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, bacterial disease, and chronic illness are common and, in the case of chronic illness, on the rise. Through ICS, I studied these diseases and their effects on the molecular, community, and global level. My ICS courses have provided me with perspective, perspective that allows me to better understand the lives of my patients on whatever continent they might live on, whatever language they speak, or whatever background they come from. I have studied war and how it exacerbates risk factors for disease. This major has taught me that, often, medical professionals are the only avenues for peace when they serve as go-betweens and when ceasefires are called in order to facilitate vaccine distribution. In the modern age, doctors have roles that go well beyond repairing the body. They are sources of all types of aid relief, from promoting sanitation to finding the source of infections and caring for those that others might discount as hopeless. As an ICS major, I have studied comparative cultures. In addition to English, I speak Spanish and French and will begin learning a fourth language, Swahili, this summer. With globalization and the diversity already present in the US, knowledge of cultures and language skills are invaluable to the modern physician. While volunteering in Durham emergency rooms, I've seen how patients use small blue translation phones to express their needs to medical care providers. I've observed how impersonal this process becomes when patients feel as if they are talking to a machine recording. With the possibility of a new immigration policy, there will be even more need for doctors who can not only fix a patient’s body but also understand his/her reasoning, background, and language. This is beyond the capabilities of a little blue phone. This is why I chose to become both an ICS major and a PreMed student.