Shahreen Chowdhury

Sun Feb 07 2021 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


Growing up, summer breaks meant three-month trips to Bangladesh. My favorite pastime became evening cha and toast biscuits with my mejo fuppi on the baranda where we shared stories. I also couldn’t wait to go to Nanu’s house in Tangail to be greeted by all of my cousins. We would play outside from sunrise to sundown.

My parents have done everything to instill Bangladeshi and American values in me. I spent summers going to baseball games at Wrigley Field, weekends having Sunday brunch, and Halloweens pumpkin patching. I’m privileged to have grown up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Being 45 minutes from downtown, I could choose city life on the weekends, while escaping to serene, somewhat more orderly suburbs during the school week. I’ve realized, however, that all that I know has encapsulated me in a ‘suburban bubble.’

It wasn’t until the past few years that I understood inherent disparities within so many communities. During one summer trip to Bangladesh, I shadowed an endocrinologist in Savar. One of my interactions was with a poor woman who had severe diabetes and no access to proper treatment. While I was upset that her socioeconomic status would define her quality of healthcare, I was astonished to learn that hospitals would also deny her treatment for the same reason.

I also didn’t always understand the extent of the healthcare disparity at home until I was a scribe in an underserved, primarily geriatric community of Illinois. Many patients hadn’t seen a doctor in years because they couldn't afford quality care. I witnessed what it meant to have a lack of resources, education, and community.

The ability to care for a person’s life will always be the highest pursuit for me, a Bangladeshi American woman who loves to ponder the unknown and tackle everyday challenges. Medicine has given me the unique opportunity to pursue and combine my two passions: problem-solving and making decisions and judgments through compassion.

Health, Medicine, Community