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Highlighting the Heroes: Wayne State University School of Medicine Student Up For $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations - was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

 

The Right Fit H.e.r.o. award

John Purakal

Graduating 4th Year Medical Student- Wayne State University School of Medicine – Detroit, MI
John will be most remembered at Wayne State University School of Medicine for Raising Our Community’s Knowledge, the public health organization he formed during his first year of medical school. John conducted quite a bit of research, in Detroit and internationally, and found many people with chronic illnesses did not understand basic concepts regarding their afflictions, which led to poor compliance and health behaviors. John wanted to create a lasting impact in the community that would address these gaps in knowledge. He began creating lectures and discussions related to the most prevalent healthcare issues in the community, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc. After recruiting 2 fellow to students to be directors of the group, they recruited student volunteers to give the talks to various venues around the city of Detroit, ranging in age from middle school to senior living centers. Since starting the group, ROCK has had over 50 different student volunteers give lectures to nearly 4,000 Detroit residents. Churches, high schools, community centers and markets in the area have all hosted ROCK events, and the organization won the Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Award from main campus at Wayne state University in 2013. John is pursuing a career in Emergency Medicine, which is a unique choice considering his interests in public health and clinical research. However, he would be the first one to tell you that Emergency Medicine is a field that needs leaders in public health and research as the healthcare landscape changes in the years to come.  The following describes how John became inspired:
John and two friends were leaving school after a late musical practice, when his musical director, Fr. Torina, suddenly began gasping for air. He was an elderly priest, who was wheelchair bound due to his multiple ailments. John called the police, and when he returned he found Fr. Torina leaning on the handlebars of his electric wheelchair, quickly decompensating. He has said that the moments of helplessness he felt waiting for the EMS, and the days that followed, exposed him to the unique individual struggles associated with disease and its treatment: loved ones distraught at the thought of loss, hoping medicine will prevail; physicians collaborating in efforts to properly diagnose and treat their ailing patients; the patient’s feeling of betrayal towards his own body. Although it took a strenuous week-long battle against advanced sarcoidosis and lung failure before his teacher’s body gave up, the fragility of human life had been exposed to him in a matter of mere seconds. It was that night that truly catalyzed the transition of his career interests to an affirmed passion.
We will need physicians, scientists, policy-makers, and hybrids thereof to lead a concerted effort to eliminate health disparities and initiate change through research, while providing the best available treatment for our patients. John embodies the leader you need in an emergency setting, ready to take action at a moment’s notice and utilize other’s skill sets to achieve the best result for the patient. John will be a great fit in the emergency room, and down the line, as an advocate for patients’ best interests in the realm of health policy. Vote for John here. If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate them here.