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Medical student values prevention as a ‘powerful tool’ in primary care

By Kylee Denesha

UMass Medical School Communications

April 12, 2021

After seeing what it was like for family members to endure chronic health issues, Andrew Cauley, SOM ’23, became interested in the value of preventive medicine and public health in primary care. He lost his father and two grandparents within months of starting at UMass Medical School.

“It was a challenging time in my life, navigating medical school and the range of family health tragedies happening simultaneously,” Cauley said. “It opened my eyes to the realities of people living with chronic illnesses, as well as people with conditions they cannot control. I started thinking about where my role in medicine could be and I saw that as more of a prevention style. I’ve realized it’s such a powerful tool. I’m certain that I want to use this experience as a means to help other people and their families.”

Cauley helped lead the public health group optional enrichment elective, in which he worked with local public health experts and speakers on a variety of public health topics. He co-leads the Rural Health Scholars, a group that organizes events focused on rural health care concepts.

He also serves on the Student Body Committee and is one of five members working with the administration and student body, overseeing committees and planning schoolwide events. Committee members are elected by their classmates and Cauley is grateful for the opportunity given to him by his fellow students.

“I really wanted to be a part of the student voice for change,” he said. “The pandemic introduced several obstacles and hurdles, but it’s the creativity of the students and their will to make a difference that carried us through. If you ask a lot of current UMass students what the best aspect of the community is, they’ll say ‘It’s the students.’”

In addition to advocating on behalf of fellow students, Cauley is involved in the UMass Worcester Community Garden, which grows produce for students and local food pantries, and he mentors undergraduate students in the UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway program. He also took part in a research project on clinician burnout at Family Health Center of Worcester that explored ways to improve the wellness of health care workers by conducting a qualitative data analysis from focus group discussions.

“Work-life balance and stress management are important for clinicians to control so they can provide better care for their patients. Importantly, institutional policies and the administrative burden of our health care system contribute to the burnout problem in a big way,” he said. “This research is something I hope to continue with future projects to help address the needs of our hardworking clinicians.”

The Student Spotlight series features students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Nursing and School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

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