Meet Samantha Goveia, Lown’s newest public health intern

Samantha Goveia is a current Master of Public Health candidate at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Lown Institute’s newest public health intern. We asked Samantha to share with us her journey to public health. This is her story.

As a child, I aspired to be a physician and part of the healthcare system. My passions were anchored on the idea that all physicians, nurses, and medical professionals strive to prioritize a patient’s needs. However, my lived experiences showed me that this is not always the belief system that medical professionals or systems have. Over time, I’ve seen so many loved ones be negatively affected by our healthcare system, and for a while, I accepted this as normal.

Growing up, I remember my mom experiencing chronic pain and physicians insisting there was nothing they could do to alleviate it. After breaking bones that never fully healed in her foot from an accident, the tendons on the top of her feet began to pull mom’s toes upward. This resulted in her toes dislocating, scar tissue build-up, and excruciating pain. For years, this continued as physicians reiterated that there was nothing they could do as the damage that was done was irreversible. However, she continued to seek other opinions from different physicians when she found a female podiatrist. This physician listened to my mom and worked with her to find a solution that decreased her pain substantially. Now, over ten years later, my mom’s pain levels are manageable.

As I continued my education at the University of Washington, my courses focusing on homelessness, anti-racism, and disability rights showed that although there are many issues in the healthcare system, there is hope for change. Through my time working as a deck hand on a tendering boat in Dillingham, Alaska, I have gained more understanding of the complexities of how healthcare interacts with individuals in rural and remote areas. My family in Alaska often visits the “clinic” for small medical interventions and is treated by medical professionals who’ve cared for many generations of local community members. Despite this tight care network, this clinic is not prepared for medical emergencies like heart attacks. These serious medical emergencies require a three-hour plane ride for patients to Anchorage to receive life-saving treatment. This has taught me that even if there is kind, compassionate care provided, accessibility to this care is crucial to the lives and well-being of patients. 

Although my family and friends have had negative encounters with their healthcare, I understand the value of having physicians who have a passion for providing compassionate care. To encourage and make this care the standard, I want to understand how to impact the healthcare system through policy and regulation. With my instruction at the Dartmouth Institute, I have a better understanding of how informed healthcare impacts patient outcomes and how crucial it is to measure these outcomes in a way that is readily accessible to the public. 

I believe that a healthcare system with more widespread commitment to care, one that is kind and accepting to all people, is attainable for our healthcare system. With more information and measurements of this type of care being accepted and new generations of passionate medical professionals, I have hope that this change will come soon and I can be part of that change. I am excited about this opportunity as an intern at the Lown Institute to analyze how informed and measured healthcare has impacted the healthcare system and policies.

When I am not studying, I love to enjoy the outdoors through hiking, snowshoeing, and going on nature walks. I also love to read, bake, cook, and spend time with my family and friends.