Using language skills to bridge gaps in health care

Victor Damptey has been finding out Spanish ever since he attended a language-immersion elementary faculty.

“It was an ideal alternative to discover past the bounds of Minnesota to find out about completely different cultures and folks around the globe,” says Damptey. “This expertise formed a good portion of my childhood.”

In his house state, Damptey discovered few alternatives to enhance his fluency outdoors of the classroom, however he continued to review the language all through center faculty, highschool, and now faculty.

At present a senior, Damptey is pursuing a minor in Spanish alongside a serious in organic engineering. Following commencement, he plans to attend medical faculty to turn out to be a physician-scientist whereas utilizing his language abilities to deal with disparities in well being care.

Whereas in highschool, Damptey volunteered with a neighborhood pediatric hospital, discovering that connecting with sufferers his age was a rewarding expertise. He was impressed by not solely the medical groups working with every affected person, but additionally the years of analysis and improvement put into creating efficient remedies and medicines.

“Having the chance to volunteer in that medical house made me within the energy of drugs in bettering folks’s lives,” says Damptey. “That sparked a robust want inside me to contribute to that area and make my very own affect on different folks.”

He was additionally a Boy Scout whereas rising up, and collaborated with a nursing house to create a music remedy program for residents with dementia for his Eagle Scout Service Challenge. He recollects interacting with the daughter of one of many aged sufferers after a session.

“She advised me with tears in her eyes that she discovered particulars about her mom that she had by no means discovered earlier than and didn’t even have the possibility to be taught earlier than dementia began to take aside her mom’s life,” says Damptey. “That was a big expertise that I had, studying that this illness is a really private one and that it impacts these households in several methods.”

That, alongside together with his hospital volunteering expertise, laid the groundwork for his curiosity in drugs as each a technical and social endeavor. At MIT, he’s labored with the PKG Heart to proceed to develop his ardour for public service by collaborating of their spring break program as a pacesetter within the well being care observe.

Honing lab and language abilities

Damptey is presently a member of the lab of Institute Professor Paula Hammond, working below PhD candidate Brandon Johnston on new remedies for osteoarthritis. After three digital semesters throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Damptey was desperate to delve into moist lab analysis on campus, however he got here into it “principally figuring out nothing,” he says. Damptey credit Johnston’s wonderful mentorship with serving to him contribute to an impactful undertaking and develop worthwhile abilities as a researcher.

In tandem, Damptey finds methods to use his Spanish abilities outdoors of the classroom. He acknowledges it’s one factor to be conversationally fluent in a second language, and one other factor completely to be fluent in a technical setting.

“A method that I like to consider it when explaining it to folks is, even in case you’re fluent in one other language, may you clarify your UROP analysis in that language?” says Damptey. “For me personally, I don’t suppose I can but, or a minimum of to not the extent of complexity that I ought to have the ability to if I had been talking to a different scientist.”

ActLingual is a scholar group Damptey joined as a first-year scholar, whose mission is to make use of non-English language and cultural competency abilities in group service settings. Damptey co-leads the group’s Medical Deciphering Committee, the place he developed a medical deciphering course in collaboration with the MIT Prehealth Advising Workplace to introduce college students to the sphere. He was initially drawn to ActLingual for the chance to use his language abilities, however he discovered a brand new ardour in tackling the issues that language obstacles pose in well being care.

“One factor that we as native audio system of English take as a right is that we will simply navigate this world with out questioning if what we’re saying shouldn’t be being communicated effectively, and we’re simply in a position to convey our ideas, emotions, and questions,” Damptey says. “In a well being care setting the place a affected person’s well being is on the road, it turns into clear how essential it’s to correctly talk.”

With monetary help from MIT Medical, a MindHandHeart grant, a COOP grant, and the Neighborhood Service Fund, the course has run throughout the January Unbiased Actions Interval for the final two years and can hopefully proceed sooner or later.

“Having the ability to discover this subject of language obstacles and the way essential it’s in entry to high quality well being care made me enthusiastic about incorporating that into my very own profession as a future doctor,” Damptey says. “I plan to work in an surroundings the place I can leverage my Spanish fluency to assist bridge that communication hole. As a result of on the finish of the day, everybody deserves high quality well being care.”

Discovering group

One side of MIT that drew Damptey, past the tutorial alternatives, was its folks. All through his faculty profession, he has leaned on group each in and outdoors of the classroom. In his Spanish lessons, he’s related with friends and professors over a shared beloved for the language.

“It makes for a closer-knit group of scholars,” says Damptey, noting that some lessons he’s taken for his minor have had as few as eight college students. “By the tip of the semester, you are feeling such as you’ve gone via this nice studying expertise collectively, and I really feel prefer it’s not the identical whenever you’re in a lecture corridor with so many individuals.”

Damptey is a member of Christians on Campus, the African College students’ Affiliation, MIXED @ MIT, and the Black College students’ Union, all teams the place he’s discovered an area to discover and join with completely different points of his id.

“Given all of the completely different cultural experiences I’ve had — with my Ghanaian dad and mom, or rising up in a Spanish-immersion faculty, or navigating my experiences as a Black man residing in America — it’s been a very nice alternative for dialogue about what it means to be completely different, no matter which means to you personally,” Damptey says. “MIT brings collectively a group of numerous students, and that is essential to me since that was one thing that was much less noticeable in my instructional background in my hometown. I needed to return to an establishment the place I may go searching and see individuals who seem like me, and in addition be taught from a wide range of folks.”


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