Meet Filipa, Lown’s public health intern

A prerequisite of being a pre-medical student is seeing a better vision for a healthier future and believing it can be done with the power of medicine. When I met Bill as a pre-med student, I thought the same.

I called him to complete his first follow-up as a part of his clinical trial participation. Bill was hundreds of miles away from me, yet his story was one I heard often, both near and far. Bill had a stroke and was airlifted to the nearest metropolitan academic medical center, where he received appropriate care. Unfortunately, as with many stroke patients, Bill was eventually discharged with some related deficits. What he didn’t expect when he returned home was that he was no longer the same – he was no longer able to move around his house as he did before or even remember his lifelong neighbors. In the beginning, Bill was optimistic that his symptoms would wear off, and that he would soon return to work and get back to ‘normal’. Over the course of two years of talking to him, I learned this ‘normal’ was out of reach. He lived hours away from his stroke hospital and could no longer drive. As a result, he missed his first neurology follow-up, his physical therapy, and eventually his primary care appointments. Once his disability leave ended, he had to quit his job. Eventually, he became dependent on state disability benefits, which were scarce, and he received little support with essential activities such as accessing food or doctors’ appointments. It was then that I became his primary healthcare advocate from miles away.

Before meeting Bill, I met many patients who were similarly unable to return to ‘normal’ after a stroke. For those that had access, many attended months of in-patient rehabilitation and physical therapy and were supported by family and caretakers to tend to post-stroke necessities, but even they were not able to regain full range of motion or pre-stroke cognitive ability. A key difference between these patients and Bill was that they had a chance to try and get better. A lack of medicine was not the offense in Bill’s case, but a lack of access to care and insufficient infrastructure to ensure that a patient like him would not fall through the cracks of the healthcare system. Here, I realized that a better future in healthcare could not solely be reimagined with medicine on an individual-patient basis, but through changing the medical system for all patients.

My mission in the public health field is to improve the healthcare system and ensure equitable access to essential care for all patients. Similarly to the Lown Institute, I, too, believe that healthcare is fundamentally about human connection. Since I have had the privilege of learning from patients who share the barriers they face, I hope to build healthcare that works for patients and not against them. I am eager to join an organization that actively leads the charge toward a transformative change in healthcare.


  1. Access to healthcare: Bill’s story highlights the reality of access to care for many Americans. Ensuring equitable access to care, especially for those in rural areas, is crucial for moving healthcare forward.
  2. Systemic change: Improving healthcare requires systemic changes, not just using medicine to cure individual patients.
  3. Human connection: Working towards a healthcare system that is accessible and equitable requires prioritizing human experience. Healthcare is an industry, but at the end of the day, it is human life that is at stake.