Mary Tate ’17 knew she wanted to be an obstetrician long before she could spell the word.
Tate recalls how, as a college student, she was shocked to learn that infant mortality rates in her home state were four times higher among Blacks than among their Caucasian counterparts.
Eventually, the interest she had as a young girl in becoming an obstetrician grew into a young woman’s conviction that she might be able, someday, to change those odds.
“What I’m passionate about,” says Tate, “and what I want to do in my future, is to work to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in infant mortality.”
After graduating from Dartmouth College, Tate won a fellowship to work with One Heart World-Wide, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal and neonatal health in remote areas of the world.
During that fellowship, Tate came to appreciate the power that community health workers had to influence health outcomes and began thinking about how to employ that concept in the United States.
Two months after arriving at HMS, Tate cofounded MOMS—Medical Students Offering Maternal Support—a program that matches medical students with pregnant women at community health centers for months-long relationships.
With the support of the Center for Primary Care at HMS, this program, which started at the Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester, is being expanded in collaboration with the child and family services program at the Dimock Center in Roxbury, both of which serve people in Boston neighborhoods where infant mortality rates have fallen but still remain higher than in more affluent areas.
Because Tate wants to know that the methods being used in MOMS are as effective as she thinks they are, following her third year she plans to apply to a master of public health program “to better prepare myself for the kind of research that I’m interested in now.”
Image: John Soares