The U.S. Public Health Service will recognize Megan Smith, an M.D./M.P.H. dual-degree student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, with a 2020 Excellence in Public Health Award during the pre-graduation award ceremony on Sunday, May 17, at the Schuster Center in Dayton. The award recognizes medical students who are involved in public health issues in their community.
Throughout her medical school and public health training, Smith has focused her efforts on addiction. Smith was active in research and authored an invited review article on the subject of ovulation induction for the general practitioner. Smith has helped organize a symposium on addiction for graduate students of the health professions. She also spoke on addiction to the Montgomery County Drug-Free Coalition.
“Addiction doesn’t respect societal boundaries, and I think that’s important to recognize as a health care provider,” Smith said.
Smith pursued both her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees (M.D./M.P.H.) through the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Physician Leadership Development Program, a dual-degree program through which medical students can obtain a master’s degree in public health or business while pursuing their medical degree over five years. Smith spent her third year of medical school finishing her M.P.H. coursework, a 200-hour practicum and a culminating project.
During her M.P.H. year, Smith sought opportunities to study and improve population health in the mental well-being of others. She designed and organized an interprofessional symposium for local graduate students in the health professions. The event was titled “Caring for the Patient with Addiction: An Interprofessional Approach.” Smith drew from the professional network she developed during her community practice placement to compile an expert panel.
Smith also developed an interactive, simulated patient experience and helped organize a community resource fair. The event was received well and attended by 60 people, who reported that the experience enabled them to promote community mental health through provider education. Smith also helped by partnering with a local public health agency to organize a mental health first aid training session for medical students.
John McAlearney, Ph.D., director of the Physician Leadership Development Program, praised Smith’s commitment to public health. “Megan will advocate for her patients and utilize her public health training to address the relationship between medical issues and social determinants of health,” McAlearney said. “She is one of the most intelligent, insightful and compassionate medical students I have ever met.”