(By Sajni Tamby)
The AMA Journal of Ethics article Training for a Global State of Mind by Jane Philpott was a thought-provoking read that led me to pause and reflect on my reasons for pursuing a career in global health. First and foremost, I definitely feel like I am part of a global community. My parents and grandparents grew up in 5 different countries in 3 different continents and their experiences have informed the way I see myself and the sense of solidarity and community I feel with those around me. I am excited about the exchange of knowledge and ideas, fascinated by examining issues through different cultural lenses, and interested in learning how I can be an advocate for health as a human right across the globe.
The article also forced me to acknowledge more selfish motivations, namely the excitement of traveling to new and different places.
And finally, there are more “neutral” motivations that are neither completely selfish nor completely altruistic. I have spent my medical school and residency careers training in areas with significant immigrant populations and am interested in refugee/asylee health, so I’d like to better understand my patients’ backgrounds. Working with underserved patients, both domestically and abroad, gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I speak a foreign language that may be useful in many developing countries, so I reason that this would be an ideal way for me to combine my language skills, medical knowledge, and desire to contribute. I want to broaden my clinical knowledge and experience by working in radically different places without the usual resources I am used to relying on. And finally, I have been so fortunate throughout my life, so I feel a strong desire to give back. And, as an immigrant to the United States myself, I feel a duty to give back not just to America, but to the world.