Reflection from NEPO Conference

Hey guys!

I’m so glad to be back in NorCal! For those of you haven’t been following me on Instagram (@PHPortfolio), I recently went on a business trip, which is why my previous post was on what I bring with me when I travel for such. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

So from Thursday to Sunday, I got a chance to go to Newport Beach for the annual Network of Ethnic Physicians Organizations’ Building Healthy Communities Summit 2016. At first, I was going because a community partner potentially was going to present a poster on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, but long story short, I got the opportunity to go because the topics discussed was on something that I have a personal passion about — social determinants of health in the clinic.

I went last year, and I have to say, while there were many pieces last year that I enjoyed, the one line I hated saying was “Hi, my name is Michelle, and no…I am not a doctor.” Last year’s summit was predominantly physician based and being one of the only public health professionals there, I felt like I was the target of a lot of things such as not understanding the clinic culture and that we’re not with physicians. Now, don’t get me wrong. The fact of the matter is that most public health professionals don’t really understand the culture, hecticness, craziness, and chaos that can happen in the hospital or clinic. That’s the true. Not everyone knows. However, I do. I think the more I talked last year, the more physicians, as much as they love the realms of public health, talked to me, they realized that I wasn’t just a public health professional, but someone who had worked in a nonprofit clinic and understand fully what it’s like to work within a clinic and at a hospital (because I did both).

This year, I had a lot of fun — not in a sense that there was a lot to do outside of the summit itself, but the sessions were incredible. Not only did I learn new things that I was able to bring back to each section of my little department, but I felt like I learned something as a public health professional and a hopeful clinician (crossing fingers). There were public health professionals, triple degreers (MD/MPH/JD), nurses, doctors, lawyers…all in the same room, 200 of us who care about patients’ health and want to work together to really push such areas forward to ensure that patients have access to the healthcare they need.

Several general sessions include things like genetic code vs. zip codes (which is an awesome topic by the way, let me know if you want to hear more on this), diabetes, what’s been happening in Flint Michigan, upstream doctors, and the fun part which is seeing doctorbedancing (check him out on YouTube).

These were clinicians that really wanted to make an impact individually as well as their communities, and I felt that despite the barriers and setbacks that so many shared such as Dr. Mona, the pediatrician in Flint, Michigan that took on the contaminated water issue and was called a whack doctor and needed to be “watched out” because she has a public health degree and understood statistics (when the emails came out, that was one of them), that those of us in that room were really together in wanting the same thing — healthy communities.

We also got an opportunity to hear from Dr. Bennet Omalu, who received one of the Above and Beyond award. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Omalu is the pathologist who uncovered the kind of brain damage that football players can sustain because of concussions (multiple, more than one). You all may know the movie Concussion, in which Will Smith portrayed Dr. Omalu. Now, for all you hardcore football players and afficionados out there, I’m not bashing the game. In fact, Dr. Omalu himself wasn’t even about bashing the football game. What he wanted to do, was advocate for his patients. He became aware…saw a pattern that was worrisome. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when one obtains too many brain injuries such as concussions, that one can later on sustain complications. It doesn’t take a genius. But, when Dr. Omalu came out with this, a lot of people called him what many called Dr. Mona, “a whack doctor.” I think that’s not only unfortunate, it’s downright sad. His right hand who was at the conference said this “If someone wanted to play football, knowing about CTE, than that is his choice to do so.” I too support that stance. If you want to play football knowing the risks, go for it. However, to not let people know the dangers and risk while allowing someone to continually play football in my opinion isn’t only dangerous, but it’s negligent. It is. He endured a lot. To hear what he said at the conference, it was saddening, and I don’t think any award could take a lot of what he probably experienced away. However, what I am appreciative though, is that things like the movie and this award does shed light to what clinicians who advocate for their patients — whether it’s one or more, they experience a lot of backlash, until the truth catches on, and the realization from the general public hit that what clinicians may cry foul, really is that — foul.

My overall thoughts about the summit were incredibly positive. If I get into school, I wonder if I can even go to something like this next year, only because it was so inspiring, encouraging, and honestly, you see the few doctors who really care about their patients, communities, and the overall profession that we all know as being a doctor. Doctors care, at least the ones I hung out with for 3 days, they care.

So, what about my evenings? It’s Newport Beach? I expected the beach! So, I stayed at the hotel where the conference was held and…the beach was incredibly far. I gave up after walking for an hour and saw Hwy 1 and how I had to cross that. I said “Nope…Not crossing that…” I spent a lot of my time at Fashion Island where, in all honesty….I have not seen that many luxury cars ever. You want to see more than two hands of Maseratis or Bentleys or higher end Teslas. You can go here.

From the beauty end, I actually had to search for make up wipes because, this girl here….forgot her make up remover. >_< …. So, I saw Nordstrom and thought I could purchase something there. I purchased the Clinique Take the Day Off balm, which helps removes make up. Having a carry on, I needed to be incredibly picky with what I get. It’s on the fly, has to be under 3 oz, and a good price point. So I did buy that and returned it (without using it) because while walking around, I found an Ulta! Ulta, you are a life saver!!! So, I know Ulta sells my favorite make up remover wipes which is the Simple Micellar Make Up Remover wipes. So essentially, I wanted to try the Clinique make up removing balm (Clinique…if you’re reading…can I try?) because it’s such a unique and cool product. Think about it — a balm that doesn’t melt as easy, and won’t leak out like other liquids. Unfortunately, since I like the Simple Micellar wipes and want to use up my 2 packages that I have now (yeah…two…one that I was suppose to bring and the other I bought at Newport Beach), maybe I’ll buy it.

Food — OMG…..I love…love…love the food I had there. Thank goodness I got to walk a lot since I didn’t have access to a car, because the food was soooo…..sooo good. If you want to see what unhealthy things I ate…yes, I said it…I ate some unhealthy things…check out my instagram.

Other than that,  I definitely enjoyed my time at the NEPO Building Health Communities Summit. I learned a lot, met a lot of influential people, ate a lot of good food, so…I felt like it was great. 🙂

Till my next post!

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