One of the first patients Anju Goyal assisted as a volunteer with Health Leads Chicago at Chicago Family Health Center wanted to accomplish one task: completing a Medicaid application. But as Anju talked to her, it became clear that she also could use adult education and childcare resources. In the end, Anju assisted her in filling out her Medicaid application, enrolling in GED classes, and enrolling her daughter in a day camp that could provide childcare.
“No one has taken the time before to help me,” the patient told Anju during their last meeting. “I can’t believe a 20-year-old actually did.” That moment stayed with Anju; she knew she would continue to volunteer with Health Leads for the rest of her time in college, and from the start, her experience with Health Leads was already beginning to shape her post-graduation plans.
Anju was initially drawn to Health Leads because of the way it empowers physicians to prescribe more than just medicine. “I think that many doctors would like to do more to improve the lives of their patients, but they are constrained by the demands of their profession,” Anju said. “The doctors do not have the time or resources to address the social determinants of health, even if they would like to. I am proud to say that I work for an organization that fulfills this gap in the healthcare system.”
Having recently graduated from the University of Chicago, Anju wanted to continue serving her Chicago community before applying to medical school. She arranged with City Year Chicago to spend the next year being a mentor and tutor in the Chicago Public School System. “I know [from Health Leads] I have the skills to interact with a diverse group of individuals and to work in a collaborative environment,” Anju said. “Because of my work with Health Leads, I am also able to communicate effectively and be resourceful.”