Humanities Institute

Reflecting on Paul Farmer's Visit

Wed, May 1, 2013
Reflecting on Paul Farmer's Visit

“We were delighted to be able to bring Dr. Paul Farmer to campus, and inspired by the enthusiastic response of students, faculty, physicians, and administrators.  With plans for the new medical school underway, this was a great time for a conversation about the importance of addressing the social factors that lead to inequalities in health care.  We look forward to continuing conversations about social medicine and the medical humanities.” 

Pauline Turner Strong, Director, Humanities Institute

"He is every bit the person that comes across in his many writings.  Dr. Farmer’s arguments for social medicine in a twenty-first century medical school, arguments based on erudition, practicality, empathy, and a deep sense of justice, are very compelling. Ours will be the first new medical school at a top-ranked university in over thirty years. We should heed Farmer’s inspiration and not let this grand opportunity to include social medicine in our medical school pass us by."

—Dean Luis Zayas

School of Social Work

“Thank you so much for working to bringing Dr. Paul Farmer to UT. 

Like many of my peers I was deeply inspired by Dr. Farmer's work after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. I first read it during the summer when I was 19, just before departing to El Salvador where I got the privilege to visit GlobeMed at UT Austin's partner clinic, Clinica Ana Manganaro, in Guarjila, El Salvador. GlobeMed's model is based upon Partners In Health, with strong emphasis on partnership, solidarity and sustainability in the movement towards achieving global health equity.

Since then, I have delved deeper into global health and it is now a passion. I read more of Dr. Farmer's writing and my eyes were open to realize that health disparities are not just treated with medicine, but with an equally keen awareness of sociological, economic and political factors as well. Through Dr. Farmer's works, I was motivated to learn more in those areas and found realistic applications in my classes.

It was incredibly inspiring to have Dr. Farmer visit and speak to students. Part of GlobeMed's mission is to empower student leaders to be the next generation of changemakers. At UT, we do this in our weekly meetings where we discuss various global health issues to educate ourselves and strengthen our foundation of knowledge to be effective leaders. Additionally, we have campus engagement events to raise awareness and spark dialogue with our community on issues regarding human rights, social justice and health. The acknowledgment and encouragement of our work from Dr. Farmer as student activists in GlobeMed and his investment in spending time genuinely speaking with all the students is truly a testament to his belief that we indeed have the potential in our generation to be emerging changemakers, or his "retirement plan" as he likes to say. To me, that is extremely motivating and humbling.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to be fully engaged in GlobeMed during its inception phases which helped me secure global health as my passion. For our younger GlobeMed members still trying to find their place in the movement, I know that Dr. Paul Farmer's visit immensely helped in their journey of personal and academic discernment.”

Michelle Truong, Human Biology/Spanish Literature Senior

External Co-President, GlobeMed at UT Austin

“My husband and I have been supporting Partners in Health through monthly donations for a few years. Our interest in Dr. Farmer’s work has developed as we’ve researched how we can impact healthcare in impoverished communities. Dr. Farmer’s work with the poor and underprivileged has inspired us in many ways. My husband, Trevor, began attending the University of Texas at San Antonio as a pre-med student, where he became more familiarized with the work of Dr. Farmer and his advancements in healthcare among the world's poor.

Our life plans had been drastically altered after my husband was wounded in Afghanistan while serving in the U.S. Army. Throughout his multiple deployments and 10 year military career, he has been exposed to the devastation of extreme poverty and economic inequalities in parts of the undeveloped world. These experiences have changed Trevor’s perspective and created a desire in him to become a physician. Dr. Farmer’s stellar work has shown us that genuine compassion for others and hard work can make a difference in the lives of many.

It was a wonderful experience to hear Dr. Farmer speak on the advancements he’s made in healthcare. It was also very moving to see the time and attention that he spent speaking to individual guests and learning their stories. We were appreciative of the time we had with Dr. Farmer and being able to speak to him on personal level.”

Martha Loomis, Project Coordinator

Military Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers of Wounded Warriors/Veterans

UT Health Science Center Healthcare Restoration & Care Systems Management

“Thank you so much for bringing Paul Farmer to campus! His visit was absolutely transformative for our public health students and it was so stimulating for my colleague, Richard Taylor, and me to attend the faculty conversation.” 

Dr. Leanne Field

Director, Public Health, Medical Laboratory Science, Health Information Technology Programs

College of Natural Sciences

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