Since freshman year, Emily Wang ‘20, has been combining social justice and healthcare by interning at the Ithaca Free Clinic. From working to start a non-profit to investigating patient outcomes, this biology major and Public Service Center Scholar is continuing her work this summer with the clinic’s chronic care program thanks to an Arts & Sciences Summer Experience Grant.
“I love the community this organization has fostered around creating this crucial hub where healthcare is not a privilege but a right,” Wang said.
The chronic care program combines Western and holistic medicine, adding in such methods as herbal medicine and acupuncture to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and depression.
“Great care in medicine requires a comprehensive understanding of not only disease but the systems of disease that are as unique and complicated as the humans that carry them,” Wang said.
Wang is working closely with Abby Gilbert, director of the program, to conduct an independent patient outcome survey. In the fall, Wang surveyed more than 100 patients and collected feedback. This summer, she created a study to capture statistics on pain and symptom reduction. The clinic will use her data to apply for grants and in their publications. She’ll present her findings at a clinic staff meeting later this summer.
Wang is also responsible in aiding the development of the Ithaca Free Clinic Food Pharmacy by helping to manage and coordinate deliveries from donors, keeping track of inventory and conducting a patient satisfaction and demographic survey for future grants.
Wang, who is interested in both interventional and preventional parts of medicine, believes that both the promotion of a healthy diet and a chronic care program can address current needs and issues. Because of this philosophy, Wang is starting the Food Pharmacy Network, a non-profit dedicated to helping free clinics start their own food pharmacies.
“The Public Service Center Scholars program has taught me to be aware of the social determinants of health and the inequalities perpetuated by systems in our society and government,” she said. “I have applied this knowledge to navigating my internship this summer.”
On campus, Wang is a manager at Anabel’s Grocery and serves as a member of the advisory board of Biology Service Leaders, where she developed and taught a nutrition course at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. Wang is also a nutrition teaching assistant in the Cornell Prison Education Program, a metabolism research assistant at Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of a biology project team.
“I would really like to thank the Arts & Sciences Summer Experience Grant Committee for granting me the means to be able to engage with this important opportunity that will continue to change my life and my path to becoming a physician.”
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.