U.S. ELAM Spotlight: Dr. Lillian Holloway

hollowayDec. 2013 (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba – MEDICC) – Dr. Lillian Holloway (ELAM class of 2009) never imagined she would become a doctor. She grew up in a dangerous neighborhood in Philadelphia without any health professionals as role models. But Cuba’s global humanitarian efforts and a personal experience inspired her.

“I became interested in medicine after visiting Cuba and seeing Cuban medicine in action. My sister, her daughter and I traveled to Cuba and stayed in a family’s home. My sister’s daughter became ill with fever and we were very nervous because we didn’t have any travelers’ insurance or much money. The apartment building was crowded with families of modest means, yet three doctors living there came to my niece’s bedside right away. This made us even more nervous, since we couldn’t imagine how to repay them. The Cuban doctors were offended that we even thought of payment: that was the first time that I realized the doctor’s ability to use medicine as a way to motivate, heal and change a family and a community.”

Lillian subsequently applied and completed the full six-year medical scholarship program at ELAM and is currently a resident in Family Medicine at University of Illinois-Chicago College of Medicine. She researches disparities in breastfeeding practices, serves at a local health clinic and also consults with communities in low-income countries, as part of her program’s global and community health track. Lillian plans to practice family medicine in an underserved US community and she sees a role for herself in academic medicine-training future physicians to care for and engage with vulnerable populations.

Reflected Lillian, “Without MEDICC’s assistance I am quite sure my entrance into residency would have been delayed, which often limits an applicants’ possibilities. If I had delayed it by even one year I would not have been considered by the University of Illinois. Perhaps the most important way MEDICC has helped me is through their eternal support.”

 MEDICC works to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and global health communities aimed at better health outcomes. http://www.medicc.org.