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Profiles in Public Health

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Walae Hayek

MPH, Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Mental Health and Substance Use, Boston University School of Public Health

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health is a multidisciplinary field dedicated to achieving health equity and preventing disease by addressing the social determinants of health.

What inspired you to study public health?

I am passionate about health equity and advocacy through promoting the significance of the social determinants of health. As an aspiring physician, a foundation in public health has expanded my perspective on health and given me the skills and tools to tackle systemic and institutional barriers that influence patient health outcomes. Learning to conduct community assessments, influence public policies, and overcome barriers to patient care are key strategies that frame the clinical perspective and direct treatment plans.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

The most rewarding experience in my career so far is the ability to connect with and advocate for patients during my practice as an EMT. Often times the lack of representation and cultural awareness creates a barrier between providers and patients, helping bridge that gap is incredibly rewarding because it improves patient care and deepens their trust in the healthcare system.

Advice:

If you don’t ask, you will never know! Ask questions, be engaged, and seek out new sources of knowledge. The biggest challenge that the field of public health should be focusing on is eradicating systems of oppression that have a long history of marginalizing communities of color, creating disparities, and exacerbating barriers to care. This means actively addressing systemic racism, sexism, and xenophobia through policy changes and reallocating funding to community resources.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

The biggest challenge that the field of public health should be focusing on is eradicating systems of oppression that have a long history of marginalizing communities of color, creating disparities, and exacerbating barriers to care. This means actively addressing systemic racism, sexism, and xenophobia through policy changes and reallocating funding to community resources.

Find an Academic Program in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Mental Health, Substance Use/Harm Reduction, TIPH Student Ambassador