Anna Kheyfets Daoud, MD/MPH24

"When applying to medical school, I focused on MD/MPH programs because my passion for medicine has its roots in public health. I now have a health systems knowledge base with which to care for individual patients as well as their larger communities."
Anna Kheyfets Daoud, MD/MPH24

What inspired you to pursue a medical degree, and how has your personal journey shaped your career goals?

I grew up passionate about art and worked in museums during my teenage years. I thought I was going to become an art curator or conservator. The art I was drawn to constantly told stories of what women, immigrants, and marginalized communities had undergone, sparking my interest in women's and immigrant health. At the same time, I found a love for biology as a student at Stuyvesant High School. No one in my family had become a physician before, but through incredible mentorship, I realized I was able to combine these interests in a career as a physician. Watching my mom survive Stage III ovarian cancer after a delayed diagnosis further pushed me to become an advocate for equitable health care delivery. I knew from these experiences, and my time growing up in Brooklyn and watching the inequalities around me, that the medicine I was drawn to was centered in public health. I had a hunch from the beginning that I would be an OB/GYN from my interest in reproductive justice, and my clinical experiences in medicine confirmed this was an incredibly dynamic field where I could apply my old painting skills to surgery while working with people at a pivotal entry point into the medical system during pregnancy.

Can you share a memorable moment or experience from your time at Tufts that has left a lasting impression on you?

One of my favorite clinical experiences was during my endocrinology elective during my fourth year taking care of a Russian-only-speaking patient admitted to the hospital. She recently immigrated to the United States and only had her son here before she was diagnosed with cancer. When I came into her room for the consult and spoke Russian with her, she expressed such incredible relief and joy that she would be able to communicate directly with a clinician at the hospital. The happiness in her voice and the immediate trust formed between us highlighted the importance of racial, cultural, and language diversity among physicians and why I originally pursued medicine. I was able to sit with her and chat over the following days, and I later saw her in the clinic for a follow-up. It was so rewarding to develop such a meaningful relationship with her and address her needs directly while making her more comfortable. One of the things I am most excited about in residency is taking care of the diverse immigrant community in NYC.

If you could go back to before you started at Tufts and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

I would tell myself to create time for check-ins with myself regularly during this process. The four years went by so fast, and it is incredible to compare how I have grown. I wish I had taken more time to check in with myself to appreciate the growth throughout the process. I would also emphasize the importance of taking time for myself and my loved onesI have never regretted a lazy TV-watching night or dinner out with friends, even during the busiest times. Enjoying my time during medical school only made me a better, happier physician.

What are your aspirations and goals beyond graduation, both personally and professionally?

I will be pursuing OB/GYN residency back in NYC, with the hope of continuing to conduct equity-focused research in obstetric care delivery to improve quality and patient experiences of care. I am most interested in pursuing a fellowship to become a maternal fetal medicine specialist, taking care of high-risk pregnancies. I will aid those who want to experience pregnancy and childbirth safely and respectfully, despite their comorbidities, and will also support my patients’ bodily autonomy to end pregnancies as they so choose. Concurrently, I want to continue working as a researcher and advocate in public health to advance equity of maternal and reproductive care through quality improvement projects, political action, and innovation. I am excited to move home and serve the community that raised me!

How have your research interests evolved throughout your time in medical school, and what impact do you hope your research will have on your field?

I came into medical school already very interested in research that advanced maternal health equity and eliminated racial inequities in maternal morbidity and mortality. During medical school, I was able to advance my experience in qualitative research and learn how to incorporate implementation science and quality improvement into equity-focused research through my work with the Perinatal Neonatal Quality Improvement Network of Massachusetts, the state perinatal quality collaborative, and through my mentorship with Dr. Audra Meadows. I loved this practice- and outcome-changing work because it went beyond defining the issues and gave evidence-based solutions with frameworks for implementation. I learned the intricacies of implementation in the clinical setting, which I will carry with me throughout my career. I hope to incorporate my research into advocating for legislation that can make these changes possible.

Can you share a specific clinical encounter or public health initiative from your academic journey that has influenced your perspective on the importance of addressing social determinants of health and promoting health equity?

During my time at TUSM, I was the curriculum developer for the Phoenix Project, a volunteer organization of medical students that teaches health classes at a local jail. This experience highlighted that access to resources including food, housing, healthcare, and education determine one's mental and physical health, and social status. It emphasized how poor basic public education is regarding our bodies and health, and underscored the need for reform.

How has the MD/MPH dual degree program shaped your identity as a physician?

When applying to medical school, I focused on MD/MPH dual-degree programs because my passion for medicine has its roots in public health. I now have a health systems knowledge base with which to care for individual patients as well as their larger communities.