May 17, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Humna Fayyaz had already earned two degrees from the University of South Carolina when she discovered her passion for public health. The B.S. in Biology alumna had just graduated with her MD from the USC School of Medicine Columbia and was completing training in psychiatry as a resident at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“I realized there were upstream factors that were driving health inequities in the patient population I was treating and wanted to have the tools to address these factors professionally,” Fayyaz says. “With this interest in hand, I decided to pursue a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology due to its vast intersection between medicine and public health.”
Choosing the Arnold School for this degree was an easy decision for Fayyaz, who was born in Pakistan but raised in Columbia. Since beginning her studies at USC in 2010, she had appreciated the resources, research opportunities and access to world-renowned faculty offered by the state’s flagship institution.
Returning closer to home, she continued her residency training at Prisma Health as a resident physician in the Preventive Medicine Residency Program. She found a mentor in epidemiology clinical associate professor Myriam Torres.
“Not only does Dr. Torres exude compassion, empathy, and humility as a public health professional, she is truly passionate about students growing and succeeding in reaching their goals,” Fayyaz says. “As a female physician during the COVID-19 pandemic, her confidence in me truly allowed me to see past any doubts I had in myself throughout the balancing act of working and pursuing this degree full-time.”
During her program, Fayyaz developed interests in preventing and treating addiction, specifically opioid use disorder at the patient level as a physician and at the population level through state and federal policy change. After graduating in May, Fayyaz will continue her training in these areas with a fellowship in addiction medicine at the University of Illinois-Chicago Hospital.
As part of her fellowship, she has elected to spend time at the Cook County Department of Corrections and the Veterans Justice Outreach Program – both located at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Fayyaz plans to use the public health planning and policy tools she built during her MPH program to advocate for patients who have been disproportionately impacted by opioid use disorder and those from marginalized communities.