My Introduction

 

Vreeman _Kimbilio _2012

My name is Rachel Vreeman. I am a pediatrician in the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and one of the co-directors for the research field program for AMPATH in Kenya. As a clinician/researcher, I both carry out and coordinate research that improves the children's healthcare in western Kenya. To do this work, I spend about half of the year in Kenya, but my full-time focus is AMPATH research and pediatric care.

AMPATH's research mission may not sound nearly as exciting as the clinical programs caring for over 130,000 patients and the educational partnership training up global health doctors. When you hear "research", you may think of laboratories and test tubes and statistics. Boring, boring, boring. But the secret truth is that our research program is incredibly exciting - it's how we come up with answers for how best to take care of patients in Kenya. Research is how we best influence the care of patients around the world.

I never ever thought I would end up in research.  I was the rare medical student with no research or laboratory experience (I was actually an English literature major!) I hated the idea of doing statistics. I had very little interest in studies and trials or any of that stuff. Boring.

But during my pediatrics training, I realized that as much as I loved taking care of the sick child who was in my exam room, I always wanted to figure out how we could provide better care for all the children we were seeing in that clinic. When I took care of children on the wards of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital during my months in Kenya as a resident through the Indiana University exchange, I knew I wanted to work on the big challenges for healthcare in a place like Kenya. I wanted to help figure out how to provide better care for patients in the world's poorest places, where the healthcare systems are broken and where we need to make limited resources go the farthest.  Health services research (the kind of research I do) is a great way to try to meet those challenges. (I am only a little bit biased towards my job, since it's the best possible job in the entire world. At least for me.)

Research is all about problem-solving, about finding the answers we need to make the healthcare system work better. Through the research mission of AMPATH, we work to answer important questions like: What are the most effective ways to prevent HIV infections from passing from a mother to her unborn baby? How do we know what dose of HIV medicine to use for children who are malnourished? How can we support families through the challenges of having a child take HIV medicines twice a day, every day, for the rest of their lives? (Not boring at all.)

My own research work focuses on those last two questions: how to dose medicines properly for children and how we can best help families take the medicines for HIV over the long term. You will find that I share a mixture of numbers and stories here (as well as the occasional tale of misadventure) as I explore how AMPATH can provide effective HIV care for the children of western Kenya. Thanks for joining me!

Posted at 15:27

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