SGU InciSioN - GND Global Surgery President Editorial & Interview: Rhea Raj

By Jeffrey Yang, SOM Term 1 

Updated: November 6, 2020

What inspired you to join InciSioN? 

I have always been interested in pursuing a career in surgery- particularly cardiothoracic surgery as it would allow me to use my scientific knowledge in a way that directly and immediately impacts the quality of life of my patients. 

At InciSioN we aim for surgical equity, that is, the access to safe and affordable healthcare for everyone. According to WHO, 9 out of 10 people worldwide do not have access to safe surgical care. I believe that it is imperative for the global medical community to work together to improve worldwide access to surgeries. 

InciSioN Global is working towards the common goal of access to safe, timely and affordable surgical healthcare for all. Can you tell us about the current issues InciSioN has been facing? How have the circumstances in 2020 affected your mission and outreach? What were some different approaches you’ve had to use during this period?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly shifted the direction of medical education. Having online classes, labs, and exams presented a significant shift to traditional learning, but also proved as an opportunity to evolve and bring change. Instead of having in-person general body meetings and club events, we are hosting online meetings and webinars in order to achieve our goals in terms of advocating for global surgery.  

What do you think health care professionals can do to push for healthcare equality/equity and ensure a better future for patients of all backgrounds?

I believe that the first step health care professionals can take to push for global health equality/equity and ensure a better future for patients of all backgrounds is to become aware of existing healthcare disparities. Recognizing our implicit biases and working together towards the common goal of eliminating these disparities is one way we can provide better care for our future patients. It is important to educate ourselves on these issues. One way of doing this is by participating in medical diversity training programs and online webinars that focus on systemic racism and inequality in medicine. Another step that could be taken to achieve health equity is diversifying what is taught in medical schools. In a study published by PNAS in 2016, it was found that about half of the medical students and residents endorsed false beliefs about biological differences between black and white patients, such as “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s skin,” resulting in a flawed assessment of pain perception and treatment in black patients. This shows us how rooted racial biases may result in inaccurate treatment outcomes. In order to uproot these biases, medical trainees must be taught to recognize and address them first. The willingness to learn and revise our beliefs will bring us one step closer to eliminating inequalities in the field of medicine.

What are some of InciSioN’s future plans that you want SGU to be informed about? What are some ways interested students could get involved with InciSioN?

InciSioN GND has many opportunities for interested students to get involved in, such as a Spotify Podcast to discuss current events in the world related to global surgery. We also have a plan to develop a virtual shadowing program where students will observe a range of live lectures and/or live doctor-patient interactions in order to gain exposure. We also conduct online zoom interviews with doctors and surgical field experts to discuss access to global surgery. 

What do you hope to accomplish during your time with InciSioN?

I hope to raise awareness about global surgery and inspire my fellow classmates to actively engage in advocating for health equity for everyone. By doing this, we will move one step closer towards eliminating global healthcare disparities.

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