AMWA Initiatives — Diversity Dialogues

Diversity Dialogues: Micha Zheng, MS-3

Micha Yin Zheng

Undergraduate University: Rice University
Graduate School: UC Berkeley
Medical School: UC Berkeley–UCSF Joint Medical Program
Fun Fact: I have 16 cousins, which makes for very fun (and loud) family reunions!
Research Project Abstract

Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Merry Jean Losso, M4

National Medical Student Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

MJL: What inspired you to pursue this research project?

MZ: My mother! I first found out about “doing the month” practices while working on a quality improvement project. I was at first shocked to learn about all the rules and restrictions imposed on women during this time, and remember complaining to my mother about how “backwards” the practice was. After a long rant, my mother finally spoke up and said, “I did the month after giving birth to you, and I expect you to do it too!” After talking to her, my aunts, and my grandmother about the postpartum practice, I was surprised to learn how common it was in my family, and the many rational reasons behind each particular restriction. I wanted to find out whether other women in the Asian American community were also participating in doing the month.

NTA: What was the most interesting information you took away from this research?

MZ: It was very interesting to find out just how important doing the month was to women – many felt that the practice had helped them to fully recover from childbirth, and quite a few also believed that after not properly doing the month after having their first child, they would experience many health consequences (i.e. headaches, chronic back pain). These would only be resolved by rigorously following all the doing the month components again after the birth of their second child.

MJL: What would be the ideal future of this project, in your opinion?

MZ: I would love for someone to do a retrospective analysis using EHR records on health outcomes in women who have done the month versus women who chose not to do the month.

NTA: Why is diversity and inclusion important to you?

MZ: As someone who hopes to serve a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural group of people in my future practice, I believe that it is important to foster the same sort of diversity in healthcare providers. Shared decision making can only successfully occur when patients can trust and relate to their providers.

MJL: As a future clinician and/or researcher, how to you plan on integrating diversity and inclusion into your work?

MZ: I hope to work in clinical environments with diverse patient populations including the immigrant and LGBTQ+ spectrum, and hope to mentor other women of color who are also aspiring physicians.

NTA: How can the medical field should change to be more inclusive?

MZ: We often hear of the statistic that there are now more female than male medical students in the U.S. However, faculty and leadership positions in hospitals and medical schools throughout the country are still sorely lacking in representation by women and people of color. I believe we need to tackle this as a field in order to nurture the development of more providers that reflect the diversity of the patient population. This should be done by more URM programs, scholarships, and mentorship programs that increase the pipeline starting as early as high school!

Stay tuned for our next Diversity Dialogues!

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