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Claudel Petrin-Desrosiers Headshot

Let the World Be Our Clinic

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Not so long ago, I was a fresh new medical student with a strong interest in global issues and a background on social activism and human rights. I was -- and still am -- highly interested in politics, social equity and youth implication.

Over the course of my first weeks at university, I met a few students who were involved in something called the IFMSA. My dream of becoming a doctor transformed into a dream of being not only a doctor but also a global health advocate. I soon became a local officer for IFMSA-Quebec standing committee on global health and next thing I know, I was on a plane heading to Peru for my first regional meeting. And in April 2012, I was elected President of my national member organization. So far, two general assemblies, two regional meetings and several national meetings, it has been one amazing journey and I don't regret one single thing.

In only a year and a half, IFMSA taught me so much. Through various trainings, workshops, sessions, plenaries and meetings, I've been exposed to multiple social and global health issues that we face today. I was amazed and I encountered to meet outstanding people that inspired me to become, what I believe to be, a positive leader. I've grown not only as a future doctor, but also as a person who truly cares for global health.

I was blown away by some of the projects done on the local level around the globe. Nothing is more powerful than medical students tackling global health inequities. Nothing is more forceful than medical students advocating for their patients' rights and safety. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing over 800 medical students sitting in one room and talking about public health, climate change and social determinants of health.

Whether it's about local, national or international issues, we have to make our voices heard. We carry on our shoulders the trust of our fellow citizens. As Virchow said, we, the health physicians, are the natural attorneys of the poor, and politics are nothing but medicine on a large scale. I agree health is not everything. But without health, everything means nothing. Medicine is to speak up for what we believe is right. Medicine is to get a smile from every little kid we meet. Medicine is to give hope to those who don't see the light every day. Medicine is advocacy.

I refuse to give up. I refuse to keep silent. I refuse to stay an observer. I refuse to close my eyes to violation of human rights. I am a very optimistic person. I always see the good side in people. I am full of hope. I believe we can close the gap in our generation. I believe our voices deserve to be heard all over the world. I believe we can make this world a better place. This might explain why I am so into IFMSA.

The current worldwide movement around global health relies on medical students committed to health equity, like you, like us, like every single member of IFMSA. Our energy, passion, motivation and engagement are needed. We, the health professionals of tomorrow, need to stand up and speak for those who can't. We must pursue the dream of global health equity and we must keep alive the hope for social change. We have in our hands the largest student network of the world. We have the skills and the tools to train our colleagues and to educate ourselves. We have the opportunity to make universal healthcare a reality for all. We can create tomorrow's global health leaders that will influence trans-national inequalities that shape health of our planet. We have the power to write the future we want.

All together, we will get there.