BREAKING BARRIERS TO MEDICAL CARE
At age six, Jeffrey Edwards became fascinated with medicine when he would accompany his mother to her pediatric nurse practitioner night classes. What started as a method of child care became a genuine interest in the tenth grade when he shadowed a neurosurgeon colleague of his mother’s. By the time he entered Harvard College, he had decided to follow her footsteps into pediatrics.
Edwards majored in neurobiology, but also delved into some other interests. In a Swahili class, he fell in love with the language and culture of East Africa. “My professors encouraged me to think of language as the capital with which people exchange culture,” he remembers. “How do you understand people unless you understand their language?”
Edwards studied in Kenya between his junior and senior year, developing a culturally relevant early childhood development curriculum with a local NGO composed of community members with HIV/AIDS.
Later, at Stanford University School of Medicine, he traveled to Sudan to study barriers that prevent patients with rheumatic heart disease from receiving necessary care to prevent life threatening complications.
At the Bloomberg School, Edwards is studying obstacles to medical care, particularly in resource-poor populations in the U.S. and globally. He hopes to practice as a pediatric hematologist and oncologist, helping break down barriers to care for his own patients and throughout the world.
“As a physician, I can have a limited impact based on my patient census,” he says. “However, this effect can be magnified by public health efforts to cause systemic change.”