Kassandra Jean-Marie, a second-year medical student whose journey to becoming a doctor has taken her twice through the halls of UMass Chan Medical School, wanted to be a doctor from an early age. Her reasons, however, have changed over the years, shaped by her parents’ experiences and her own observations. Jean-Marie was born in Boston; his parents were born in Haiti.
âI’m really passionate about people who don’t have access to health care, or their access to health care is very limited or segmented,â said Jean-Marie. âI think of my family members. The only time they’ve had a physical exam is when they absolutely have to do it for a new job. And then they ended up paying out of pocket because they didn’t have health insurance.
This passion drew Jean-Marie to the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) track, an option for students at TH Chan School of Medicine that focuses on health care disparities and issues. health specific to urban and rural communities.
âWe are getting information on how best to serve marginalized people, knowing that the health system has not always been kind to them,â said Jean-Marie. âHow do you give access to health care to people who may not want to go to the hospital because they are afraid – if they do not have papers or a green card – that they will get deported? These people obviously deserve and still need health care, so what can we do to help them? “
Following the August 14 earthquake in Haiti, Jean-Marie organized a collection of bandages, soap, hand sanitizer and other supplies. In September, she was appointed to the Springfield COVID-19 Youth Council, where she is responsible for providing information and education on the COVID-19 vaccine to residents 35 and under. She volunteers at the student-run Worcester Asylum Clinic and Lawrence General Hospital. She is also a member of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), a national organization that supports medical students from underrepresented minorities. She has been with SNMA since she was a student at UMass Amherst, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and public health. Having obtained his certification at the age of 17, Jean-Marie worked as a certified nursing assistant until college.
During the summers after his graduate years, Jean-Marie completed the UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway program. The BaccMD program is open to students on UMass undergraduate campuses from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or first generation graduates.
As for what comes after medical school, Jean-Marie is interested in infectious diseases and works in a community health setting with first and second generation American refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. Or maybe she will end up working in primary care, maybe in Haiti or some other developing country.
âWhen we talk about many debilitating diseases, we are talking about the lack of primary care in many of these areas. These diseases, ultimately, are somewhat incurable. We can provide drugs and sometimes intervene, but the disease itself never goes away. And sometimes that’s because it’s taken too late. So primary care, I think, is just extremely important, âsaid Jean-Marie.
The Student Spotlight series features students from UMass Chan Medical School in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and TH Chan School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Chan Medical School and how to apply, visit Future students page.
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