Kevin Hill, School of Medicine Class of 2021, became fascinated with learning about the personal experiences of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, when he spent a semester abroad as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis (U.C. Davis). “As part of a Chicano/Medical Studies program, I did rotations in hospitals, clinics, and rural health facilities in Mexico. While there, I started to learn about the impact of immigration on individuals and families,” he says. “After studying abroad, I knew that I wanted to learn more about the current state of immigration—both on a personal and societal level—and to be of service in any capacity I could.” Mr. Hill returned to Mexico that following summer, this time working with Central American migrant populations residing in a shelter in Mexico, located near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Teaching English classes to individuals and families who took refuge in the shelter while awaiting their visas which would allow them to safely travel through Mexico, Mr. Hill gained an even deeper understanding of the adversity faced by those fleeing gang violence or seeking economic opportunity.
Then, during his first year at New York Medical College (NYMC), Mr. Hill sat in on a lecture that really struck a chord—Tracy Fubert Gardner, M.D. ’98, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and director of community engagement and ambulatory preceptor experience, touched on the topic of knowing your patient’s cultural history in order to provide the best level of care. “She spoke to the fact that students find it difficult to take a thorough cultural history because they worry about offending the patient,” he explains, “But she really drove this point home – it’s crucial to ask the hard questions. Knowing what your patients have experienced is key!” With this in mind, Mr. Hill returned to Latin America for third time this summer, this time as a medical student working with a NGO in Guatemala where he conducted a survey-based research project about the characteristics of chronic pain. “I was interested in learning more about the experiences and health situations within communities in Guatemala,” he explains.
Here Mr. Hill explains what led him to NYMC and how he plans to apply his vast international experience to his medical career:
What drew you to NYMC?
When I came to NYMC for my interview, I stayed overnight on campus in the student apartments. It was a very special opportunity to get a feel for the student community. Everyone was very supportive. The opportunity to live on campus seemed to keep the student community connected.
You’ve had a great deal of experience working with migrant population abroad, but do you have any similar experience working with immigrant populations in the United States?
I am part of the student group Neighbors Link, which provides health and wellness education at a local community center that predominantly serves the immigrant population on at community Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y. We partner with the community center to conduct health based workshops.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue down this path—volunteering and gaining international experience because it’s important to me to give back. I also want to better understand the lives of individuals from different countries who are currently living in the United States, so that when I am practicing here, I may apply what I’ve learned into practice.