Oliver Moodie: Bringing a Social Lens to the Halls of Med School
Hello all! My name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist interviewing the leaders that make our healthcare better through their innovations! Today I’m talking to Oliver Moodie, the entrepreneur behind UncoverED.
Spiffy: Hi Oliver, what challenge are you addressing?
Oliver: UncoverED is all about teaching medics about social problems: what they are, why they occur, and how we can fight them through our medical practice. For example: why is there a higher incidence of cervical cancer among lesbians? Why are Black women twice as likely to have stillbirths, compared to White women? These issues are being increasingly recognized in healthcare as, not only an important determinant of patient outcomes in healthcare but, for some groups, the single most important factor.
Spiffy: Social issues affect people so directly through medicine, what prompted you to do this work?
Oliver: I took a year out of my medical training to get a degree in sociology. The biggest realization for me was seeing how the core sciences and social sciences were often tackling the same problem from different angles – despite this, there was not nearly enough trans-disciplinary communication! After that, it was a no-brainer for me to start UncoverED to fill this education gap – I truly believe that UncoverED has the potential to alter how medics approach their practice for the rest of their lives.
Spiffy: I see! Both fields are trying to make our lives better but in different ways. How does UncoverED make the world a more equitable place?
Oliver: Firstly, we educate others on how to promote social equity in healthcare through our lecture series that has been attended by hundreds of medical students. Secondly, we help to support minority healthcare professionals who experience the consequences of health inequality both as physicians and as patients. We are doing this by working closely with UK universities to write and present two papers that will help gauge the experiences of ethnic minority students in UK medical schools.
Spiffy: What’s a milestone you’ve reached with UncoverED recently?
Oliver: UncoverED recently launched the Cambridge Black Medics Society which is a network for both present and past medical students in the East of England. Significantly, the ability for us to provide relatable mentors for our 50 medical students – mentors that face similar challenges to their mentees in the professional world. We are a modest organization and, given the dearth of black doctors in very high positions in healthcare, we feel very proud that we have actually been able to pull it off!
Spiffy: You should be proud! What’s a time you’ve faced failure? How did you overcome it?
Oliver: The launch of UncoverED was severely hurt by coronavirus – our in-person launch event had to be cancelled and everyone’s timetables were up in the air, making planning for the future very difficult. It was actually a blessing in disguise because by launching virtually more people from across the world were able to hear about our work. It was definitely a very challenging time, but I learned the importance of not treating every set-back as a coup-de-grâce – things work out if you just persevere.
Spiffy: What about a time that you learned something unexpectedly from someone?
Oliver: I had a meeting with a mentor who sits in the House of Lords (our version of the Senate) recently. It was originally arranged as a funding meeting, but we ended up just chatting for an hour. At the end of it, I was very surprised that they gave me the funding on the spot! It made me realise that sometimes investing in people can be the biggest factor in determining success. Surround yourself with like-minded, motivated, and positive people, and the rest will fall into place.
Spiffy: Wowee, I agree that investing in great conversations is the way to go.
Oliver Moodie is a medical student at Clare College, University of Cambridge. Alongside his medical training, he is also President of Cambridge Black Medics Society and previous Senior Opinions Editor of the award-winning newspaper Varsity.