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Medical student provides a voice for patients and families with special needs

Naaz Daneshvar brought Operation House Call to the T.H. Chan School of Medicine

As a third-year student in the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, Naaz Daneshvar is doing what she wanted to do growing up in McLean, Virginia: help people.

“Since kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a doctor; my dad’s an allergist,” Daneshvar said. “But as I grew older, I loved science classes and experiments. And then in college, it really felt right to be volunteering and in the hospital, scribing in the emergency room.”

Daneshvar wants to work with children with complex medical needs partly because of her 40-year-old cousin Amir, who has an intellectual and developmental disability.

“He can’t communicate like you or I do. If he’s sick, he can’t really say what’s wrong,” she said.

Daneshvar worked to make a course called Operation House Call a requirement for first-year students in the Chan School of Medicine. Offered by the Arc of Massachusetts, the course prepares medical students to interact with patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Patients and their families come to campus and students also do a home visit.

“By introducing students to families early on, I think anyone can be equipped to care for a patient that has an intellectual or developmental disability,” Daneshvar said.

She testified before the state legislature about why the training should be required for all medical students in Massachusetts last fall and she wrote a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe about the pending legislation in July.

“I knew early on that advocacy was something that I wanted to incorporate into my identity as a medical student and later on as a doctor because I know my voice will carry so much weight. If I can provide a voice for these families by writing a letter or testifying in front of the House, I’m more than happy to do so,” she said.

Watch the video above to hear from students in the Operation House Call course and listen to the Voices of UMass Chan podcast to hear the full interview with Naaz Daneshvar.

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

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Operation House Call pairs medical students, special needs families for lessons in compassionate care
New School of Medicine students share experience in first weeks of hybrid learning