Skip Navigation

Sommer Scholars

Shelly Choo

Master of Public Health Student

In the U.S., surgeons are board-certified. Not so in developing countries—something Shelly Choo learned during time spent in Ghana as a medical student doing a clinical research fellowship. “It was surprising,” says Choo, who just completed her second year of medical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But at the same time, it wasn’t surprising because there are just so few qualified surgeons; they can’t retain them.” Medical officers there performed exploratory laparotomies, appendectomies and hernia repairs—procedures that are reserved for board-certified surgeons in the U.S. She was also alarmed by the lack of resources and access to medical equipment, which is taken for granted in more developed countries. “It made me realize how much waste there is and how important it is not to take things for granted,” Choo says. The experience inspired Choo to spend time during her mandatory research years with the Preventive Medicine Residency Program pursuing an MPH degree at the Bloomberg School. Ultimately, Choo says, she hopes to continue studying surgical outcomes and working with providers to improve surgical access and education. Although fascinated by developing countries, she’s also interested in working domestically. “There are still areas within the U.S.,” she says, “that have poor access to surgical care, whether it’s within rural areas or the inner city.” 8,707: Number of miles Choo traveled this year to take wedding photographs and video as part of her wedding photography/cinematography business