Maureen Connolly

UMMS Class of 2012

Why UMMS?

I was offered a full scholarship to UMMS, and the chance to graduate debt-free from a really amazing medical school was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.  I will now be able to pursue my passions within the area of health equity (and maybe taking a lower income job) without having to worry about paying back loans. 

When did you first develop an interest in global health?

In my mind, access to healthcare is a human right and my interest in medicine has always coincided with an interest in global health.  When I was 16, I went to rural Honduras for 3 weeks with a family friend and was shocked by the living conditions I encountered.  That experience had a deep impact on me and forced me to think about the causes of the differences I saw between how I lived and how my Honduran friends were living.  Why are our lives so different? I’ve been thinking about that question for 12 years now and I still haven’t come up with a good answer!

What is the most exciting thing happening at UMMS these days?

The great thing about UMMS is that the administration seems to be incredibly responsive to student concerns and student initiatives.  The health equity scholars program, which has lots of input and direction from really passionate and brilliant students (mostly from the class below me!), is really exciting.  I am so impressed with their commitment to making UMMS a better place. 

M4 international elective

International Family AIDS Program (IFAP), Dominican Republic

Why this elective, this location?  

Before medical school I spent two years in the Dominican Republic working with the International Family AIDS program out of Columbia University.  I worked in the eastern city of La Romana at an HIV/AIDS clinic and at the regional public hospital in the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS and the treatment of pediatric AIDS.  It was an incredible experience and the relationships/friendships I formed have helped carry me through med school and kept me inspired during the darkest days of third year.  The clinic offers a month-long elective in Pediatrics HIV/AIDS to fourth year medical students and I couldn’t pass up to the chance to come back to La Romana and work with the colleagues and patients that affected me so deeply before medical school.  The rotation is related to my specialty and I am possibly going to purse a fellowship in infectious disease, so this was a great chance to learn how to treat diseases that I might not see as often in the United States. 

Residency match:

Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, June 2012

Why pediatrics? 

To quote my personal statement from residency application “I am convinced that long-term health outcomes are disproportionately affected by what happens during childhood and adolescence.”  That is, true health equity starts with pediatrics.  While I certainly love kids of all ages, I am especially interested in adolescents and the issues that arise as they take their first steps towards adulthood.  Whether a teenager confronting homophobia in the Dominican Republic or suffering from depression in Ann Arbor, Michigan, all young people deserve access to a space in which they can receive quality care and ask honest questions without judgment.

Significant impacts along the way:

  • My experiences in the Dominican Republic before medical school (see above)
  • My four-year collaboration during medical school with Associate Professor Mark Padilla at the School of Public Health who taught me the importance of long-standing relationships with local investigators and health professionals when doing international health work or research.   He has been working in the Dominican Republic for 15 years now and has built amazing working relationships that have allowed him to operate in a respectful and culturally responsible way when he is conducting research or implementing programs.  
  • My family. During all of my adventures abroad, they have been totally supportive, even during some very difficult episodes.