Reme Abulu looks at disparities in our healthcare system and sees more than a list of problems to solve. For the College of Biological Sciences undergraduate and aspiring physician, some of these systemic issues are personal.
“As a black female pursuing medicine I often felt alone because there are not many people that look like me doing what I want to do,” says Abulu.
Searching for community and a network that would support her in her medical aspirations, Abulu found the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS) student group her second year on campus. MAPS is a program sponsored by the Student National Medical Association that aims to support underrepresented students pursuing medicine by offering members guidance and education on pursuing health-related careers. They also aim to share information with members on health disparities and ways to decrease inequality in healthcare. Abulu now serves as president for the University of Minnesota chapter.
“MAPS gave me a space to connect with other students that had similar experiences to me and felt similarly as I did,” says Abulu. “I am in charge of keeping us current with our national organization, supporting my board members in their positions and ensuring that MAPS is fulfilling its role of supporting underrepresented students pursuing medicine.”
Abulu, a senior studying neuroscience, sees how finding this community was critical for her success as a student of color pursuing a career in medicine. But through coursework and experiences working in healthcare settings in the Twin Cities, including volunteering in a bilingual clinic in south Minneapolis, she’s also learned more about ways she can make a lasting impact as someone from an underrepresented group in medicine.
“As a student, I’ve learned more about social determinants of health, and how they disproportionately impact people of color,” she says. “I felt it was really important to pursue medicine with a healthy knowledge of these health disparities so that I can better serve underserved patients. Health disparities are often exacerbated if you identify as female, including issues that severely impact women of color like maternal mortality. For that reason, I hope to become an OB/GYN.”