Rebecca Wornhoff, an anthropology and Arts & Letters pre-health studies major, believes that fostering a holistic view of health has the potential to reduce inequalities in healthcare quality and access. With a focus on the human side of medicine, she plans to attend medical school after her fellowship and work as a primary care physician in family practice or pediatrics with Latino or immigrant populations.
A research assistant to Faculty Fellow Vania Smith-Oka for two years, Wornhoff is well versed on the intersection of anthropology and health in Mexico and the importance of combatting the societal structures that make people sick.
She developed her knowledge of health and medicine in Latin America during a semester abroad in Puebla, Mexico, where she shadowed doctors in public hospitals and gained experience working with physicians and midwives.
In summer 2015, she interned in Nicaragua on a Kellogg Summer Internship with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), which focuses on providing specialty pediatric and maternal clinical services and improving health in rural communities.
There, she conducted developmental assessments on children, accompanied nurses and community health workers on home visits, and developed new exercise and cooking classes for diabetic patients. She also conducted anthropological research on child socialization and parenting and presented her findings at Notre Dame’s annual Human Development Conference in February. Her senior thesis on the subject was supervised by Faculty Fellow Susan Blum.
Wornhoff volunteered for four years at South Bend’s La Casa de Amistad, finding in her work with the local Latino community “a big inspiration” for her international experience and the kind of doctor she aspires to be.
As an International Development Fellow, Wornhoff will serve as a community health programs assistant for Compañeros En Salud in the rural state of Chiapas, Mexico. She will assist with the organization’s Acompañante program, which seeks to achieve better outcomes among people living with chronic disease by training community members to “accompany” patients in their ongoing care.
Compañeros En Salud (CES), the Partners In Health affiliate in Chiapas, Mexico, aims to build a primary health care model of excellence in rural Mexico. The organization works to strengthen the public health system to ensure that vulnerable populations receive high quality medical care through innovation and transformational medical education.