Serving others is the underlying principle guiding my professional life and is the reason why I chose to enter public service. My desire to serve others was the major thrust behind my decision to complete my pediatrics medical training in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Hospital when I first moved to Maryland after having completed medical and graduate school at Yale University. I had the opportunity to treat children on a Native American reservation, those living in Haiti and scores of children in Baltimore during that time. With a group of colleagues, I co-authored a journal article outlining the characteristics of children eligible for public health insurance but are not covered.
After my pediatrics training, I served three years active duty as a pediatrician in the United States Navy and deployed for seven months on a humanitarian medical mission providing pediatric care in Central and South America. In addition to providing general pediatrics care for servicemembers’ children, I worked with a colleague to improve the provision of mental health services to all children on base (Camp Lejeune). I returned to Maryland (Rockville) upon the completion of my active-duty assignment.
My first interface with the city of Rockville resulted from my serving as our homeowner’s association liaison to the city of Rockville. In that position I informed fellow homeowners about city matters that were relevant to our association. I also began attending the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee meetings after having commuted by bicycle for the 13 years prior to moving to Rockville. As a part of that Committee, I led a discussion about how other cities are working to improve safety for non-motorized forms of transportation.
I previously worked as a pediatrician in an emergency department in rural Maryland. This line of work exposed me to the significant mental health challenges that many children face—challenges which often manifest as suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These experiences prompted me to join Montgomery County’s Mental Health Advisory Committee as the physician representative where I worked to ensure that proposed initiatives are mindful of the challenges faced by children who have mental health conditions.
Working in an emergency department gave me the unfortunate opportunity to provide medical care for adolescents that misuse opioids. Paradoxically, that was a new challenge that I had not encountered during my medical training in Baltimore. I then began working with likeminded groups (including the Rockville Goes Purple campaign and serving as the opioid liaison to the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics) to ensure that interventions to address the opioid epidemic are available to minors, when appropriate. Historically, evidence-based opioid treatment (e.g., suboxone) is usually only available to adults.
In addition to my role within the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), I also serve at the national level of the AAP on the Committee on State Government Affairs. This has provided me an opportunity to learn about the challenges that different states face and the solutions that have worked (e.g. addressing opioid misuse among minors) and led to my collaborating on a lawsuit to force the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take concrete steps to regulate electronic cigarettes.
My experiences working with children have ranged from education and patient care to hypothesis generation and policy implementation. It is clear to me from my time working as a pediatrician that I derive a great deal of gratification from directly addressing the health care needs of individual children and their families. However, it is my goal to significantly improve the lives of all children and, by extension, all people. That is why I chose to run for a seat on Rockville’s City Council in 2019 and is the same reason I am choosing to run for re-election.