SAFE is a Movement to Treat Gun Violence For What It Is – A Public Health Epidemic

As medical students being trained to protect our patients’ physical and mental health, we were struck by the lack of medical education available on such a devastating and important public health issue: firearm violence. While we spent our days in medical school learning how to combat and prevent human suffering through incredible advances in medicine and technology, why was it that firearm violence was never discussed? With each mass shooting covered in the news, we watched, wondering what we could do to prevent such loss of life.

We began to unravel some of the reasons why why firearm violence wasn’t being talked about in medical school. By connecting with our peers at medical schools across the country, we heard the frustration with the lack of medical education and information available about firearm violence. As we explored the scientific research available on firearm violence, we discovered a significant need to close the knowledge gap and barriers to research. These conversations revealed that medical schools were independently working to incorporate firearm violence into medical education, but were missing a unifying body to bring our individual causes together.

The result was the creation of Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE), an organization to transcend political allegiances and to unify the voices of healthcare providers calling for an end to the firearm violence plaguing our country. Our membership spans the healthcare spectrum, with a strong core membership comprised of students from over 30 medical schools across the U.S. Each member, whether a nurse, physician, social worker, or student, is committed to changing the course of firearm violence in America by treating it for what it is – a public health epidemic. Improving scientific research, medical education, and raising support of evidence-based policy are all at the heart of SAFE’s work.

We know that less than 10 years ago, Primary Care Progress grew out of a grassroots primary care revitalization effort at Harvard Medical School into a national movement. At SAFE, we’re infusing many of the same ingredients – uniting leaders in healthcare, building community, and advocacy – into our movement. As world-renowned author and physician Abraham Verghese said about our mission, “injury to the human body, whether accidental, self-inflicted or otherwise, becomes just as preventable as the small pox and diphtheria that took lives in generations past.” The call to action is clear: if the medical community is truly committed to protecting our patients’ physical and mental health and well-being, we must all come together and address the significant dangers of gun violence.

The time for the medical community to get involved is now. On September 17, 2018, over 30 medical schools across the country will host educational events about firearm violence as a public health problem, organized by SAFE chapter presidents to begin to combat the lack of education on this issue currently available. Medical providers of all types will congregate outside for a few minutes as a public showing of support for treating firearm violence like the public health problem it is. Learn how to join the medical community and show your support for Stand SAFE this September.

Celina Dubin

Celina Dubin is a second year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She previously graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2017. Though undecided about her future specialty, she is a firm believer in the importance of healthcare providers across specialties coming together to combat the widespread gun violence epidemic afflicting our country.

Sarabeth Spitzer

Sarabeth Spitzer is a fourth year medical student at Stanford School of Medicine applying in General Surgery with hopes of becoming a trauma surgeon. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Neurobiology from Harvard College in 2015.

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