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Meet Our Advocates: Dr. Chelsea Faso (she/her/hers)

Where do you call home?
I grew up in Long Island, NY. I have lived in NYC for the past 10 years for undergraduate, medical school, and residency. I am currently living in Queens.

What’s your specialty or area of expertise?
I am a Family Medicine Physician specializing in Family Planning & Reproductive Health.

What first inspired you to become a doctor?
My fascination with the human body, interest in biology, and passion to help others led me to apply to a BS/MD program, and commit to a career in medicine immediately after high school. As an Afro-Latina learning about social determinants of health, community medicine, and value of primary care, I dedicated myself to becoming a physician advocate in communities of color.

What advice do you have for medical students and residents wanting to incorporate advocacy into their day-to-day?
Recognize that your voice can leave a great impact. Your privilege puts you in a position to command people’s attention. Great advice I’ve heard is to find the thing that frustrates or angers you the most, find a community doing the work in this area, and commit your time to joining efforts. You may not have to be the loudest in the room, but a steady sustained commitment can leave a long-lasting impact on a movement. Also keep yourself accountable, listen to your patients and communities, and maintain meaningful commitments with communities.

What current policy issue especially motivates you to be an advocate?
Reproductive rights are under constant threat, and those already suffering from the structural violence of the medical institution are under the most threat, especially as this violence intersects with other systems of oppression. Advocating for reproductive rights will be a continued effort, and must evolve to center those most marginalized. We must work in alliance with Reproductive Justice organizations already doing this work. We must aim to ensure every person seeking reproductive health has true choices in their care.

How have the events of the past few years shaped how you view being a physician advocate?
Throughout my training career, I have spent time learning about applications of social determinants of health. As a witness to care delivery within our current medical institution, training within an academic medical center with a private-public hospital diad, training during a global pandemic, and through other experiences, I have become deeply perturbed and acutely aware of segregation in medical care. I recognize that a knowledge of social determinants of health is simply not enough. In order to ensure equitable care for all, I aim to work as a physician advocate and work to dismantle systems of oppression from within the medical institution.

What is bringing you joy these days?
Witnessing my family growing and seeing my generation beginning to raise the next gives me excitement about the future. Spending time in nature is a major centering strategy for myself. After completing my residency training, I have much more free time to explore my passions within medicine, and free time to spend with my family and pandemic puppy.

Our Meet Our Advocates series showcases the talents and passion of one of our doctors and finds out, in their own words, what inspires them to be physician advocates. Chelsea Faso, MD is a current Fellow in our Leadership Training Academy Class of 2022. Dr. Faso practices family medicine in New York.

Read more interviews from the Meet Our Advocates series.