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Jennifer Tsai

Yale School Of Medicine

For health equity advocate Jennifer Tsai, medicine was a calling that came early, during her high school years in East Lansing, Mich. Eager to get started, she decided to enroll in Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education, an eight-year program that combines undergraduate education and medical school.

“I know the line — being really curious and interested in science, but also wanting to help people — is really worn and drab, but for me it’s true,” said Tsai.

“A lot of ER visits can be seen as a failure of the health care system.”

Now a fourth-year resident in emergency medicine at Yale, Tsai has embarked on a path to reduce health disparities. Her interest in the topic is what fueled her decision to enter emergency medicine, which is often the health care of last resort for people who don’t have regular access to health care.

“So much of emergency medicine is not ‘I got into a horrible car accident and my leg got cut off.’ So much of it is preventable suffering,” said Tsai. “A lot of ER visits can be seen as a failure of the health care system.”

Even though she’s just starting out in her career, Tsai’s resume is filled with achievements; she’s worked with the White House, the New York City Department of Health, the journal JAMA, and White Coats for Black Lives, and received numerous awards for her work from emergency medicine groups. She may — if she finds the right position — be headed for a role in academic medicine to further her reach and continue to train and support others.

And while she appreciates the accolades, the work she’s proudest of is work that’s less visible: caring for marginalized patients and working with communities to build better structures for care. “The things I’m proudest of are things that will never make it onto my CV.”

— Usha Lee McFarling