This year has certainly been one of the toughest in human history, and yet I found myself reminded and inspired throughout this year by many opportunities to come together in community and collaboration to help others. As this incredibly tumultuous year comes to a close, I wanted to send a sincere thank you for all of the ways I’ve felt supported by your mentorship and friendship this year.
Every holiday season I try to summarize a few highlights and learnings from the year and I wanted to share these more broadly this year as a way of staying connected and hopefully giving you a chance to reflect and what you’re thankful and optimistic for.
A Year in Review
Back in March when we were seeing the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, I joined an incredibly inspiring effort called OffTheirPlate to provide free meals to frontline COVID-19 workers and economic relief to local restaurants. Started in Boston by the inimitable Natalie Guo, we expanded to 9 cities across the US and collectively raised over $7M as a team in just a few short months. Working entirely remotely as an all-volunteer squad of mostly strangers, we somehow moved $7M+ and 700K+ meals to thousands of people in need (pivoting our mission in June to food-insecure populations across our cities). I came away from this amazing experience overwhelmingly grateful to be a small part of this incredible experiment in civic and missional engagement with a brand new group of inspiring friends.
Our last zoom call as a NYC team + One of the most heartwarming donations/deliveries we helped facilitate from nursing staff at Brigham & Women’s Hospital to their peers here in NYC
Also in March 2020, we virtually celebrated Alex’s match day with the happy news that her residency would be bringing us back together in the NYC area. After wrapping up my first year of medical school and celebrating Alex’s medical school graduation virtually from Hawaii, we moved back to NYC in June as Alex started her Emergency Medicine residency a month early. Over the summer, I joined AlleyCorp’s healthcare venture studio full-time to help launch a primary care company while also exploring a few newco ideas in managed medicare, dual eligible populations, and value-based care analytics. I also co-authored this special report on the State of Digital Health in NYC highlighting a record-breaking year of digital health investment and innovation.
Alex graduating in May with her MD/MBA and on her first day as a PGY1 Emergency Medicine Resident! (cheesing with her “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” mug)
This year, I also had the incredible honor and privilege of being named a 2020 PD Soros Fellow, an honor that really goes out to all of you as my mentors and friends who have been there every step of the way. Through the award, I had the opportunity to share how my parents’ New American journey as immigrants from Hong Kong inspired my lifelong pursuit of both medicine and healthcare entrepreneurship.
The day the award became public in the New York Times and a kind post featuring my parents in the Mount Sinai Blog
As we started virtual classes back up in September, I feel fortunate to have been in arguably the least impacted medical school year as a preclinical MS2. Although we were all distantly zooming in from our homes, I had the opportunity to came together with friends and classmates on a number of occasions (1) launching Diversity Innovation Hub’s Pipeline program to support 30+ inspiring and passionate entrepreneurs tackling social determinants of health (2) virtually hosting Dr. Leana Wen at AAEM/RSA’s Northeast Emergency Medicine Symposium. Continuously inspired
Virtually kicking off our 5-week series at DIH Pipeline and our virtual Fireside Chat with Dr. Leana Wen, former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore.
Working with medical students across the country, I was part of an incredible team who launched MD++ officially as a 501c3 non-profit to support the next generation of physician-innovators. Starting with just a dozen folks in NYC just a year ago, our community somehow grew to over 600 medical students from all across the country. I’m continuously amazed and humbled to know that there are so many of us interested in bridging clinical interests and physician-led innovation across technology, business, health policy, life sciences, etc… In a year where shared connection and community became especially challenging, we were able to host virtual meet-ups, inspire new career interests, facilitate spontaneous connections, and ultimately create a platform for medical students (especially those may feel less supported or underprepared by their home institutions) to explore and build their non-clinical interests.
MD++’s most recent winter events and our inaugural VC Market Mapping competition introducing 15 medical students to the world of venture capital.
As I look to the new year, I’m optimistic that our world and healthcare system will soon return to a new normal - one I hope to play a small part in creating as a patient-advocate for a more equitable/aligned healthcare system and a future physician-innovator for our most underserved patient populations. These days, I think most intently about ways we can more sustainably fund and scale social services addressing our patients’ social-determinants of health and building communities to inspire innovation in healthcare. A somewhat ambitious project I have for 2021 is to start a biweekly newsletter (working name: Healthcare Hatchery) to bring together my personal networks across healthcare/medicine and tech/VC to form ad-hoc working groups to actively learn + potentially address underserved issues in healthcare.
More broadly (whether I get this passion project off the ground or not), I hope to continue working across my cross-functional roles as a catalyst and connector of change agents in healthcare. Whether through my role as an early-stage venture capitalist supporting biotech + healthcare founders, a community-builder for aspiring physician-innovators or digital health product managers, or as a medical student about to enter clinical rotations, I feel incredibly fortunate to have so many opportunities and lens from which to bring people together in building a better healthcare system.
Regardless of what industry you work in or what hopes/dreams you have for the new year, I hope we can all consider what our role is in creating a new normal as this pandemic is put behind us. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear from you and ask how I can help support you in making those changes a reality :)
In the meantime, I hope you have a blessed holiday season and we’re both wishing you our warmest wishes for the New Year!