Maria Pita

Maria Pita.
Learning about the current East African surgical capacity helped me contextualize the American healthcare system in a broader scheme and gave me a better sense of how important surgical development is to the health and life expectancy of populations.

Degree

Cultural Anthropology '21

After the declaration of a public health emergency following the outbreak of coronavirus, it became clear to me that this was a vitally important time to learn about infectious disease control, medical management and the role of care-providers in delivering proper healthcare to the people who are most likely to need it and least likely to have it.

The mission of my project, Sustainably Improving Neurosurgical Patient Outcomes in Uganda, is to focus on all these aspects of healthcare. The goal of the research is three-fold: improving surgical training, strengthening hospital partnerships and providing Ugandan medical students with sustainable job placements. To that end, I collected data on East African health systems, specifically in Tanzania, to aid in the team’s efforts of creating long-term growth models aimed at reaching the target threshold of 50 Ugandan-trained neurosurgeons spread across the country.

Learning about the current East African surgical capacity helped me contextualize the American healthcare system in a broader scheme and gave me a better sense of how important surgical development is to the health and life expectancy of populations. It also served as a constant reminder of the importance of medicine, and how far we’ve come in treating illness and preserving life. The team’s focus on sustainability as the core of lasting surgical development taught me the kind of approach I want to adopt in my own future career as a physician, one that values individualized, long-term healthcare over quick fixes.

Working alongside my peers as we pursued a common goal, under the direction of Dr. Anthony Fuller, has been one of the highlights of my senior year at Duke, and an experience I know I’ll treasure for years to come.