Medical student works with policymakers on health effects of global climate change

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Policy decisions on health care challenges are made at local, state and even international levels.

By opting for a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, USC medical student Anish Parekh aims to develop the skills and experience to work with policymakers on one of those pressing challenges — global warming.

Parekh, a third-year student in the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s dual-degree MD/MPH program, said his goal is to affect public policies to help underrepresented communities deal with the inevitable health effects of climate change.

“I hope to work at a national, or even international scale, because these issues will be global in scope,” he said. “But doctors always work at a local level, too — with patients, local authorities, city municipalities, various departments.”

Parekh said the MD component of his education will be important to making a difference, just as much as dealing with statistics and regulatory structures.

“I read a study that said that the people who are most trusted for information about climate change are doctors — primary care physicians,” he said, echoing a frequent theme at USC’s Health Sciences Campus: that physicians with direct experience with patients have a special credibility not only with patients, but with elected officials.

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By Paul Boutin