Monica Mix ’02 can’t pinpoint exactly what prompted her desire to work in underserved communities. Perhaps it was the trip she took with her father to Israel, where as a third grader she saw extreme poverty for the first time. But chances are, her desire was born at home.
“When I was younger, my parents had a philosophy that you should always be working to serve those around you,” Mix says. “It was a lesson that always appealed to me.”
Gail and James Mix ’53 chose to teach their children that lesson primarily through education and travel.
“That’s what they chose to spend money on for us,” Mix says. “And I absolutely would not be doing what I’m doing today without that.”
Today, the Yale graduate is chief resident of medicine and pediatrics in Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Urban Health residency program. Specializing in internal medicine and pediatrics, Mix is in the fourth and final year of her residency and will finish in June. When she does, she will care for entire families – from newborns to centenarians.
“That’s why I decided to specialize in internal medicine and pediatrics,” she says, “I wanted to care for people throughout their entire lives.”
Given her interest in service and urban health issues, Johns Hopkins seemed to be the perfect fit for Mix. “It had built into it these four-week rotations on substance abuse, on hepatitis, on aiding the homeless and helping people transition out of the prison system,” she says. “It covered everything I wanted to do.”
Mix longs to use her medical training to diminish social inequities, and Gilmour’s service program enabled her to take her early awareness of the disadvantaged and make a tangible difference in their lives.
“Gilmour really impressed on me that the best thing to do with your life is to use it to make people’s lives better,” she says.
Mix originally dreamed of practicing medicine internationally, and as an undergrad at Yale, she spent three months working in a hospital in Gambia.
But it was much closer to home, in Akron, that her current career path was born. During a summer working at a free clinic in Akron, the then-19-year-old began to rethink her plans. In medical school, her decision to work domestically rather than internationally was cemented.
“It became clear to me that many of the physicians in my generation who were interested in social justice were going abroad, but there were many fewer planning to work with underserved populations in the U.S.,” she says. “Given the obvious ongoing need here, I decided to focus on underserved populations within the United States.
Last year, Mix spent one month at Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she helped pen two legislative proposals. One would decrease deaths from opioid overdoses; the second would improve the safety of pharmaceuticals. The Maryland General Assembly passed both into law last year.
Now Mix is in the midst of a one-month policy rotation at the Department of Health and Human Services, where she’s engrossed in two research projects. When her residency at Johns Hopkins ends, she’ll begin a two-year commitment as a primary care doctor at Johns Hopkins’ East Baltimore Medical Center, where most patients have public health insurance or are uninsured. At the same time, she’ll pursue a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins.
“I’ve loved my residency training,” she says, “but I’m really looking forward to finally being able to focus all of my clinical time on the kind of work I’ve wanted to do for so long.”
I hope one day I can look back and say . . .
I made just the right number of mistakes.
Favorite spot for Maryland crabs:
I actually don’t eat crabs, but all of my favorite Baltimoreans will tell you the best crabs are the ones you boil in your own backyard (and cover with extremely large quantities of Old Bay).
Favorite words of wisdom:
It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.
Who do you most admire?
All those people who have skills in the many areas in which I am a complete disaster
Where would you most like to travel?
It’s a long list that changes frequently. I can’t think of a trip I’d turn down, but Madagascar, India and “The Wave” in northern Arizona are currently top choices.