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Media Highlights Local Physician

Medical School professor spotlighted for efforts to bring in greater diversity

By Julia R Jeffries, Contributing Writer

Harvard Medical School Professor Marie-Louise Jean-Baptiste has been highlighted in the Harvard magazine Focus for her efforts to increase recruitment of minorities to medical school, spread cultural awareness to medical residents, and increase access to health care for the homeless.

The article in Focus—a biweekly journal covering the Harvard medical community—praised Jean-Baptiste’s accomplishments within the community as well as her remarkable life story.

Jean-Baptiste, a physician with the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, grew up in Haiti and was forced to adjust to a new mode of medical practice after arriving in the United States.

Her recent efforts center around educating medical students about how to interact with patients who may present cultural barriers.

As director of CHA’s Health Care for the Homeless program, she is also pushing for increased dental, psychiatric, and pediatric care for the homeless.

CHA Associate Residency Director Pieter Cohen has worked closely with Jean-Baptiste on recruiting minority residents and said that her efforts are paying off.

"We have one of the most vibrantly diverse residency training programs in the area," he said.

According to Jean-Baptiste, Health Care for the Homeless is facing difficulties with understaffing and funding shortages due to the recent financial crisis.

As a result, the program has been seeking out volunteers with experience in social work and even just compassionate students to care for homeless patients.

Jean-Baptiste said she often attempts to reach out to nurse-practitioners as well as inpatient social workers in team meetings to discuss specific cases, patient discharges, medical issues, projects, and troubleshooting, and her colleagues have noted this compassion permeating her work and teaching.

Cohen described Jean-Baptiste as one of his favorite teachers when he was in his residency, calling her "very warm, open, and compassionate human being first" and a "remarkably talented...and amazing doctor second."

CHA Director Richard J. Pels offered similar praise, saying that Jean-Baptiste’s "teaching is very much in demand."

"There are lots of us who are happy to have a chance to speak on her behalf," he added.

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