• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: A passion for serving underserved communities

November 25, 2018

Dr. LaPrincess Brewer holding a microphone and addressing an audienceConcerned by health disparities in African-American communities, Dr. LaPrincess Brewer developed a program that partners with local churches to foster healthy lifestyle choices and improve heart health.

Editor's note: LaPrincess Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, has been applying an innovative, community-based participatory research model to prevent heart disease in underserved communities. Dr. Brewer's program, called Fostering African-American Improvement in Total Health (FAITH), has been recognized nationally and internationally as making substantial improvements in the health of its participants. This is Dr. Brewer's account of how she got started in medicine and what compels her research.

By LaPrincess Brewer, M.D.

I don't have the classic story, where as a child, I dreamed of being a physician and went around wearing a toy stethoscope and carrying a doctor's bag.

I discovered my love of patient care and medicine after my freshman year at Howard University in Washington, D.C. As a chemical engineering major, I completed a summer internship at 3M in Minnesota. I loved the experience and had a supportive unit supervisor. It was a direct application of all the knowledge I gained in class. But something was missing.

Combining two loves

That palpable void was human touch and having a lasting impact on people's lives. So when I went back to college that fall, I contacted my advisers and told them I wanted to try something that would allow me to interact with people beyond a basic science laboratory. They recommended clinical research as an avenue to shadow a physician balancing clinical practice and research for the benefit of patients. I had never really thought of this as a possibility.

The next summer, I was selected into Research Experiences for Undergraduates — a summer research fellow program at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. I fell in love with it. Read the rest of Dr. Brewer's article.

This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.