Native American health care champion wins Udall scholarship

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Lilly Lewis always knew she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, but it wasn’t until she attended a leadership program sponsored by Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) that she focused on providing care in tribal clinics.

Lewis, a neuroscience student at the University of Texas at Dallas and a member of CPN, is one of 55 national recipients of the 2021 Udall Fellowship. The Morris K. Udall and Stuart L. Udall Foundation, established by Congress and named in honor of former members and brothers of Congress, awards scholarships, fellowships and internships in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in health care related fields and tribal public policy.

This year’s group of Udall Fellows was selected on the basis of their commitment to careers in these fields, as well as leadership potential, public service track record and academic achievement. Each scholarship provides $ 7,000 for the student’s junior or senior academic year.

Lewis said that as a student at UT Dallas, she was looking for an “aha!” moment to determine what her career path would be, and the time she spent in a tribal clinic was inspiring. Her family’s experience receiving health care at a tribal clinic also made applying for the scholarship meaningful.

“Throughout the summer after my freshman year in college, I participated in the CPN leadership program, which was an amazing experience. I learned how my tribe is different from other tribes and how access and quality of care differs, ”said Lewis. “The CPN really goes above and beyond and provides healthcare professionals who are truly engaged in the community. “

“A health care professional who understands that these health care practices can coexist and incorporates them into their practice can truly improve the quality of care for Native Americans. I specifically want to work in my tribal clinic and offer the perspective of someone who is part of the community.

Lilly Lewis, Senior Neuroscience at UT Dallas and Udall Fellow 2021

During the program, she learned that the worlds of modern medicine and traditional Native American healthcare do not have to exist separately.

“A healthcare professional who understands that these healthcare practices can coexist and incorporates them into his or her practice can truly improve the quality of care for Native Americans,” Lewis said. “I specifically want to work in my tribal clinic and offer the perspective of someone who is part of the community. “

Lewis is a senior in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and plans to continue her education and pursue a career as a medical assistant – a choice she believes will provide her with a greater ability to serve tribal communities. .

At UT Dallas, Lewis was a first responder on the university’s emergency medical response team, where she used her empathy and understanding as a student to help her fellow students during the crises.

“Lilly has also helped raise awareness in the community on the UTD campus of Native Americans in the North Texas area. With her involvement and activism on campus, I am confident that she is helping to prepare other Native American candidates to come here as well.

Dr Douglas Dow, Associate Dean of Hobson Wildenthal Honors College at UT Dallas

“I feel like my prospect of serving my fellow students helps me provide better care. On campus, that may mean understanding how students experience panic attacks during finals and being able to relate to and put them at ease, ”Lewis said.

Lewis is also an officer of the UT Dallas section of the American Medical Women’s Association and is the founding president of the UT Dallas Native American Student Association.

Dr Douglas Dow, associate dean of Hobson Wildenthal Honors College and director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said Lewis was UT Dallas’ first Udall recipient in the category of Native American health policy.

As applications from students seeking careers in the environment numerically dominate Udall’s field of nominations, recognition of applicants seeking to spend their careers in Native American public policy, tribal governance and healthcare has always been a central aspect of the mission of the Udall Foundation, ”he said. “Lilly has also helped raise awareness in the community on the UTD campus of Native Americans in the North Texas area. With her involvement and activism on campus, I have no doubts that she is helping to prepare other Native American candidates to come here as well.


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