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Alumna Receives Public Health Award on Path to Internal Medicine Residency

Annika Bergstrom recognized for incorporating public health into medical studies and volunteer work

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Annika BergstromAnnika Bergstrom, who graduated Cum Laude with Honors from American University in 2015, has received the prestigious 2022 United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award.

Bergstrom just completed medical school at George Washington University and is heading to the University of California, San Diego, for her residency in Internal Medicine. She has been deeply involved in public health and other volunteer activities, throughout her time at AU and during medical school.

At AU, Bergstrom (BS public health, minors in music and biology) sang with the Chamber Singers, took vocal lessons, and held leadership positions in Women in Science, the Student Honors Board, and the Residence Hall Association. At AU, she was first introduced to organizations that drew her towards a career in public health and medicine.

“American University allowed me the unique opportunity to explore several of my interests including public health, music, and the natural sciences,” she says. “I was able to have a broad and comprehensive education while developing leadership skills and communication skills to help me succeed as a culturally competent and well-rounded physician.”

Giving Back to Community

Annika’s public health volunteer work has included stints at Whitman-Walker Health, a federally qualified health center in DC with a specific expertise in LGBTQ+ healthcare. “I volunteered specifically with their free clinic which provides STI/HIV screening,” she says. “I learned about this organization at AU and through my position at the health department and wanted to be a part of the incredible services they provide for the city.”

During medical school, Bergstrom volunteered at GW’s student-run Healing Clinic, and DC’s HIPS Medication Assisted Treatment clinic, which provides services to individuals struggling with opioids. “I would go to the HIPS clinic in Northeast DC a few times a month to see patients for intake visits and follow-up appointments,” she says. “MAT clinics in DC, including HIPS, are essential in combating the opioid epidemic, which is a public health crisis affecting the entire nation.”

Bergstrom’s public health experience includes volunteering on the DC 24/7 PEP hotline to reduce HIV infection, and on a project involving pharyngeal gonorrhea infection and potential antibiotic resistance. She also worked at the DC Department of Health through a Centers for Disease Control fellowship.

Rewards and Lessons

Bergstrom’s public health experiences have helped guide her career decisions. “In medical school, there is a lot of minutia to memorize, complex treatments algorithms to master, and just an overwhelming amount of information to learn,” she says. “However, I felt the greatest reward by balancing the challenges of studying by being able to work on the front lines and see my actions making a difference. I got to learn from trained physicians who prioritize serving under-resourced and vulnerable patient populations and was able to connect with some incredible mentors who shared my career interests.”

Annika says she is looking forward to her residency. “As a physician, I will have the privilege to have a career that I enjoy, while also having opportunities to contribute to the field of public health through research, leadership, and community initiatives.”