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Maddy Allen – Reflecting on my time at City Year

Reflecting on my Time at City Year

Maddy Allen ’17

Upon reflecting on my time at City Year, I realized that one of the school staff members I got to know best was the school nurse. I frequently accompanied students to the nurse’s office for varying levels of care, ranging from daily medication administration and first aid to mental health support. This experience underscored the critical role schools play as a health resource for students and families, often serving as an initial point of contact for students who are struggling.

The social determinants of health underscored some of the major issues we dealt with in the classroom. When working to identify the drivers of a student’s chronic absenteeism, the root of the issue could often be followed back to housing and food insecurity, lack of transportation, caregiver unemployment, or job instability. These instances highlighted the intertwined nature of education and health, positioning schools as vital intervention points where educators and school nurses often first identify signs of these challenges.

By serving with City Year after graduating high school, I had the unique opportunity to draw upon my experience to guide my undergraduate course of study. After graduating from CYNH, I began my undergraduate career at Tufts University where I pursued a double major in Community Health and Education to further explore the connection between education and health.

I went on to work at The Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston, where I collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of community members, researchers, clinicians, and students to operationalize a mental health screening in a local high school. My experience at City Year helped me develop an intimate understanding of how schools can serve as a critical touchpoint for community health resources and allowed me to effectively navigate school dynamics to put these resources into place. By implementing this upstream intervention in the school setting, we were able to proactively identify students struggling with their mental health who might not otherwise have sought treatment and direct them to appropriate and accessible resources.

In my current position on the patient safety team within the Department of Quality and Safety at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, these experiences continue to be invaluable. A major part of my role involves reviewing reports of discrimination and bias and investigating whether equitable care was provided. We work with hospital leadership to ensure instances of bias and discrimination do not go unaddressed and that patients have access to high-quality care regardless of their background. My career thus far, from City Year to Brigham and Women’s, has been guided by an unwavering commitment to health equity and education, largely conceived during my time at CYNH.

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