Medical Student’s Perspective on Medical-Legal Partnership Part III

graham-charisseMy name is Charisse Graham and I am a fourth-year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine. Upon graduation, I will be pursuing a career in pediatrics.

I was first introduced to the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic in my third year during a Fundamentals of Medicine class, conducted in collaboration with Georgia State University law students who were enrolled in the HeLP Clinic. I have always believed health care to be an integration of various backgrounds such as basic science and public health. Yet, my initial encounter with HeLP was the first time I actually realized the important role the legal field plays.  After taking the course, I decided to enroll in the Law and Medicine elective course, during which fourth-year medical students work side-by-side law students in the HeLP Clinic.

At Morehouse, we are dedicated to providing care to the underserved and leading efforts to establish health equity. As such, we are continuously presented with cases that expose the social determinants of health.  Many of the health disparities observed in the pediatric population are a direct result of familial challenges. I have come across many situations in which children miss appointments because parents may not be able to take time off from work or have no transportation. Knowing that Medicaid offers transportation resources, it is important to have policies in place which allow for sustainment and even expansion of this particular entity. Collaborative efforts between lawmakers, healthcare workers and other public service workers are essential for such progress to be made. Stronger efforts to educate the general population about what is at stake and encourage individuals to exercise their right to vote are just a few ways to aid the promise of a brighter future. As a pediatrician, I will be an advocate for my patients by using these methods to teach parents to be better advocates for their children.