Youth: Meet Amy, a Medical Student at Dartmouth and Harvard University

Interviewer: Ashley Liang; April 15, 2020

Interviewee: Amy Liang, 1st year MD/MBA @ Dartmouth and Harvard

Amy Liang at her White Coat ceremony, an event that signifies first-year medical students' entrance into the medical profession (Amy Liang).

Could you tell us about yourself and your occupation? How does your occupation impact the local community?

I am currently a first year MD-MBA at Dartmouth (Geisel Medical School) and Harvard. I impact the community through several service projects. A classmate and I started a free dermatology clinic for Upper Valley. We planned to educate patients on skin cancer prevention and skin cancer diseases, as well as how to prevent them. This is all done as a Schweitzer fellow. Another aspect of this project targets school-age children. We teach them about sunscreen and acne and provide them with free sunscreen. We also enroll them in a program where the school receives free playground tarps to prevent overexposure to the sun. I also give free flu shots to the community through a student-run clinic. Additionally, I have helped organize the Physician for Human Rights Conference where people from all over were invited to come.

How has COVID-19 affected your dermatology clinic as well as you as a student?

Everything is now done via zoom, including classes and extracurriculars. This has had an impact on my education because I, like many people, learn best with a professor in person. We have tried to continue our dermatology clinic by hosting zoom sessions for the homeless to educate them on skin cancer and skin disease. A local inn is hosting the homeless during COVID-19, so many of the homeless are staying there at the moment. My summer research has also been cancelled and we can no longer see patients in the clinic anymore.

Another large event that was cancelled was our service trip to Indian reservations in Minnesota. I was one of the student leaders, and to prepare for this trip, we took electives to learn about Native American culture and spent over 10 hours planning logistics. However, it was cancelled a week before we were scheduled to leave, which was pretty disappointing.

If you are willing to share, how has COVID-19 affected you and your family personally?

This summer, I was planning to intern and research with a dermatology fellowship director, but this has also been cancelled. However, I am working on some papers about COVID-19. I am also excited to be home with my sister and my parents for quite a long period of time, which is something I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

What do you believe others can do to help ease the problems that you have seen?

One of the most important actions people can do right now is to keep up with social distancing, which means not hanging out with friends and limiting interactions with other people. I know that this is hard for a lot of people; I am not a homebody and usually only go back to my dorm to sleep, so staying at home has been a drastic change for me. It is also crucial to send personal protective equipment (ppe) to doctors, as there is a huge shortage of them at the moment.

Another very important issue right now is the growing anti-Asian mindset. It is quite saddening to see this kind of racism perpetuate throughout the nation. It is important to stop and prevent your circle of friends from being sucked into that mindset. We need to unite as a nation to help combat this.

"Difficult times can either divide or unify people, and I sincerely hope that this pandemic will unite the global community."

In the medical world, many medical schools have unified to initiate projects, such as sending personal protective equipment, babysitting doctor’s children, delivering groceries to the immuno-compromised, organizing personal protective equipment to send to hospitals, providing food for healthcare workers, coordinating childcare for healthcare workers, and creating greater transparency. It is very inspiring to see people making medical discoveries and publishing them without patents. COVID-19 grand rounds are being recorded and shared throughout the medical community, rather than keeping it to themselves. (Grand rounds share information about particular medical topics and patient cases, such as statistics, death count, how infectious it is, clinical symptoms, vaccine development, drug development, etc.). It is amazing to see medical professionals working together to fight this virus and making discoveries together.

What do you think is the greatest lesson we can learn from this outbreak?

I think the greatest lesson we can learn is that we should prioritize people before the economy. Implementing preventative tactics that save lives actually help the economy more than when you try to save the economy at the expense of people’s lives.

I think it is also very important to learn through example. The US was fortunate enough to have a large outbreak after many other countries, so they could see how other countries dealt with it and their varying success. I think South Korea dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak very well, dramatically slowing down the spread of the virus and flattening the curve. I believe that other countries should follow South Korea’s example and methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 worldwide.