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Serving the underserved: MD student Davidowicz selected for HIV Psychiatry elective

Erin Davidowicz, a fourth-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, was one of eight students selected nationwide to participate in the American Psychiatric Association’s Medical Student Elective in HIV Psychiatry.

The program, which included a three-day training intensive in Washington, D.C., with pioneers in the field of HIV psychiatry, gave Davidowicz firsthand experience in understanding the unique challenges faced by patients with certain conditions.

During her undergraduate studies, she studied global health and how social stigma and economic status dictate health outcomes in patient populations – a passion that extended into her medical school years.

“I’ve always been interested in how marginalization contributes to a patient’s experience of disease,” Davidowicz said. “My research and community advocacy has focused on underserved communities, including women of color and the LGBTQ population.”

Davidowicz traveled to San Francisco, where she was able to work with these populations under the guidance of a mentor. She gained new insight into patient care by participating in important conversations with patients.

“My most transformative experience was learning to communicate with patients who may have complex histories,” Davidowicz said. “I sometimes discovered their biggest challenge was not the one that may have been immediately evident. Working with them has helped me to understand how critical it is to put the health of patients into context.”

Davidowicz hopes to continue her education in a psychiatry residency program and help underserved populations through research and education.

“There’s not a lot of research in the field of HIV psychiatry,” Davidowicz said. “There is a lot of progress to be made. It was inspiring to see it happen in front of my eyes during this elective program.”

Medical students can find more information about the elective on the American Psychiatric Association website.

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