A Conversation with.... 
Olga Valdman, MD
Director, Global Health Track
 By Michael Smith, MS, Associate Director of Admissions

Olga Valdman, MD, the new director of the residency's Global Health Track, can trace her own interest in international medicine to her past as an immigrant from Russia.

"Being an immigrant myself, I have a deep passion for working with immigrant and refugee populations, particularly in underserved communities," she explains during a recent conversation in her Queen Street office.


Last summer, the 2009 UMass Medical School graduate completed her medical training at the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency and returned to her alma mater as a full-time faculty member at Queen Street. She has recently taken over the management of the residency's innovative Global Health Track, replacing Anna Doubeni, MD, who launched the program.


Olga's interest in global health was nurtured at UMass Medical School. "As a medical student, I traveled to Nicaragua between my first and second year. I worked in a remote community and I began learning Spanish." Her extensive travels abroad include trips to the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mexico. But for all of her far-flung travels, she never quite left Worcester behind.


"I really missed Worcester. It has a sense of community I had not felt before," Olga says. "Diverse immigrant communities mix together here and this is exemplified at the FQHC where I see people from all over the world as my patients."

   

In her time away from central MA, Olga also missed working with the African community. At UMass Medical School, Olga completed a community clerkship in refugee and immigrant health which led to her involvement in organizing a tutoring program for members of the African refugee community. These efforts in turn led her to co-found, while still a medical student, a highly respected and successful non-profit organization called the African Community Education program (ACE).
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ACE provides educational services for children who are refugees from various African countries, providing them with remedial education and psychosocial support. The organization partners with a host of local organizations, including the Worcester Public Schools, Catholic Charities and the Worcester Community Action Council. Olga continues to serve on ACE's Board of Directors, where she consults and offers support.


She is excited about changes she anticipates making to the Global Health Track, including possible trips to Liberia and the eventual expansion of the Track to include learners from specialties outside of Family Medicine.


"I have a hands-down perfect job here at Queen Street," Olga emphasizes. "I work at a FQHC with a diverse population, I do obstetrics, teach residents and focus on global health, all at the same time."


To learn more about the Global Health Track or the ACE program, please contact Olga at  

Olga.ValdmanFHCW@umassmed.edu.