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Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH (11 Posts)

Columnist, Medical Student Editor and Former Managing Editor (2017-2018)

OU-TU School of Community Medicine


Ashten Duncan is a third-year medical student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 2018-2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he recently received his Master of Public Health (MPH) with an interdisciplinary focus from the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. Ashten attended the University of Oklahoma for his undergraduate program, completing a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology and minors in Chemistry and French. An aspiring family physician, Ashten is currently on a National Health Service Corps scholarship. His research interests include hope theory, burnout in medical education, and positive psychology in vulnerable populations. Ashten is passionate about creative writing and what it represents. He has written pieces that have been published on KevinMD.com and in-Training.org and in Blood and Thunder and The Practical Playbook. Ashten is currently serving as Associate Author for the upcoming edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.

The Lived Experience

As medical students, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose for going into medicine and feel that we are exerting ourselves excessively with little feedback from our environment. It is important that we remember that, while we are living through the experiences that come with our training, our future patients are also living through their own experiences. The focus of this column is to examine topics in positive psychology, lifestyle medicine, public health and other areas and reflect on how these topics relate to medical students, physicians and patients alike.




Lived experience

Becoming More Emotionally Intelligent, Adaptive Physician-Leaders

Current evidence suggests that much of human health is influenced more significantly by contextual factors like the social determinants of health than the direct receipt of health care. This relatively new understanding has challenged the notion of “physicianhood” and what it means to improve the health of entire populations and communities. With the influx of issues that the pandemic has brought with it, this new model for being a highly effective physician has become even more important.

Precedented: Historical Guidance on Freedom and Health in the Age of COVID-19

We will recall when, during the summer of 2020, the moral and political duty to engage with the most momentous anti-racist movement since the 1960s reanimated a nation paralyzed by fear. By the fall, cataclysmic wildfires on the West Coast poisoned the air from San Francisco to New York City. Coronavirus, cultural upheaval and manifestations of climate change all bore down on us as we entered the most consequential and divisive national election in living memory.

Physicians’ Role in Addressing Racism

Mercedes drove two hours to the nearest healthcare clinic to get her first physical exam in ten years. I met Mercedes while shadowing a primary care physician, Dr. L. In the clinic, Mercedes divulged to me how nervous she had been driving in – she knew what the meeting held in store. Her fears were confirmed: just five minutes into her exam, Dr. L advised her, “Mercedes, you have to lose weight.”

We Have a Cost Crisis in Medicine, What Can Medical Students Do To Help?

There is a cost crisis in medicine: the healthcare industry accounts for about 18 percent of the GDP in the United States, and predictive models see this increasing in the coming years. This is a problem for the country as a whole as an estimated 41 percent of working Americans have some level of medical debt. 

Shut Up and Doctor?

Now, I am a fourth-year medical student standing at the foot of a tall ladder. The hierarchy of medicine requires that I follow some unwritten rules in order to climb. Throughout my training, I have gotten the sense that one of those rules is: avoid trouble, good or bad. Of course, now, doctors are beginning to find their voices through movements like White Coats for Black Lives. But as a young trainee, I sometimes feel the sentiment directed at James in 2018: shut up and doctor.

Pallavi Juneja Pallavi Juneja (1 Posts)

Editor-in-Chief

Wake Forest School of Medicine


Pallavi is a third-year medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, NC class of 2021. In 2015, she graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In her free time, she can still win any game of P-I-G, and she is an endless lover of poetry. After graduating medical school, Pallavi would like to pursue a career in Neurology.