Team Member Spotlight: Nadia Masroor
At VCU Health, our guiding principle is summarized in the heart of our mission: to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through innovative research, and to educate those who serve humanity. In this section, we highlight those among us who demonstrate their commitment to our mission.
When Nadia Masroor, project coordinator, Infection Prevention, started working at VCU Health System as a student worker she immediately knew she would be challenged and that she would learn from experts in their field. What she didn’t know was that she would discover her passion — and maybe even a way to make the world better a better place.
“I really enjoyed learning how important infection prevention is to the hospital and what a big responsibility it is in general,” shares Nadia, an enthusiastic learner with a bright personality. “In Infection Prevention, you’re overseeing not just surgical site infections, but in-patient, outpatient, OR, everything. So it’s a huge scope. I thought that was really cool.”
And when she attended a presentation about work done by the Medical Brigade, the global implications of Infection Prevention came into focus. The group of physicians, nurses, scientists and students had recently returned from a medical trip to a remote village in Honduras and were sharing their experiences, work and future plans. Even after she returned to James Madison University that fall to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and minor in medical Spanish, Nadia kept in touch with the physicians and nurses she had grown to respect. She was determined to put her degree to work and earn an invitation to work with the Medical Brigade. Her perseverance paid off because in the summer of 2013, she went on her first trip with the Medical Brigade and soon after that, she was hired to work full-time in Infection Prevention.
At VCU Health, Nadia continues her work in Infection Prevention, eagerly accepting responsibilities; identifying opportunities for improvement; conducting research and analysis; and, reporting her findings. She is also earning a Master’s degree in Public Health (May 2017) from VCU, which adds to the confluence of experiences and education that are shaping her future.
“I have a passion for global health and I love infection prevention too. What’s great about working here is that I get to do both,” she explains with a flourish of energy. “What’s important about population health is that we can focus on preventative measures to improve the health of large groups of people. My MPH, my work in infection control and my work with the Medical Brigade have given me the foundation to help lots of people.”
For example, Nadia shares, when the Medical Brigade program started, more than 85% of the people in the villages had diarrhea caused by a contaminated water source. “But hardly anyone has diarrhea anymore because we’ve provided $50 filters, which last for about five years and can accommodate a family of up to eight people. I think that puts it into perspective how you can help an entire population through prevention. You can treat diarrhea but now we are preventing it.”
When she talks about her work in Honduras, Nadia beams. She eagerly shares snippets about the people there, almost like a proud parent would share pictures of their kids. There’s a blind woman who, guided by her daughter, makes a three hour hike to the clinic each year for a small amount of diabetes medication and some pain reliever. There’s a loafer-wearing man who guided the team through impossible terrain so that they could visit a remote village with a rare cistern. And there are the children who use paper plates for Frisbees and have never owned a new soccer ball. With them, she shares a special connection. After dark, when the clinic has closed for the day, she teaches them English and they teach her Spanish.
For Nadia, the most difficult work of all isn’t the endless days that start well ahead of sunrise or the extreme temperatures and humidity. She also doesn’t mind the complete lack of modern conveniences, like electricity and running water. What’s hardest for her is adjusting to life once she returns.
“I think coming back home is sometimes the hardest adjustment. At first I would get angry because people would complain about nonsense, like, they didn’t have the newest iPhone,” she says. “I have taught myself that I shouldn’t expect someone who has never been to Honduras to have the perspective that I have. But I do think it’s important to accept different perspectives and to respect each other.”
Nadia isn’t sure what the future will hold but she’s sure that it will include Infection Prevention and global health. For now, she is content to continue working in a field where she can do the most good, making the world a better place.