PA Student Combines Passions for Medicine, Entrepreneurship, and Global Health

Calbeth Chika Alaribe, MPH, Thrives in Fast-Paced Environment

June 28, 2021

By Caitlin Harrison

Calbeth Chika Alaribe, MPH, PA-S

PA school is a busy and stressful time for all students. But some students thrive under the demands. Calbeth Chika Alaribe, MPH, not only thrives in PA school’s fast-paced environment, she prefers it. “I am always doing multiple things. It’s overwhelming, but I am doing what I enjoy,” explained Alaribe. “I love medicine and it’s my passion, but it’s not my only passion. I want to incorporate medicine with social entrepreneurship and global health.”

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Before PA school
Alaribe had been able to combine her passions for medicine, social entrepreneurship, and global health prior to PA school. She was the vice president of operations for a group homecare company; she worked for a non-profit focused on advancing gender equality and health leadership; and other past work has focused on improving access to healthcare in underserved communities globally. She began shadowing PAs while getting her Master of Public Health at Emory University, and became interested in the PA profession because of the possibilities the profession offered.

“Even though [the profession] has been around for so many years, it’s still new. There is so much room for innovation and change,” said Alaribe. “I want to be a part of the effort to increase PA knowledge.”

Connecting patients and providers before their appointment
Alaribe has chosen the PA profession as the way to continue her career in medicine. But she hasn’t stopped looking for opportunities to stay involved in other projects she feels just as passionately about. In addition to her responsibilities as a first-year PA student at the Morehouse School of Medicine, she and four teammates recently won a national competition hosted by MIT: Hacking Racism in Healthcare. The app she and her team developed is called Coyfish, and it provides an opportunity for providers and patients to learn more about one another prior to their appointment. Personal information that the provider and patient are willing to share, like cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds, can be disclosed in an interprofessional manner through the app. Coyfish was also recently selected as a finalist for MassChallenge Boston and semifinalist for Black Ambition. The app is currently under development and Alaribe hopes it will be unveiled in 2022.

“[The app] gets outside the box when it comes to healthcare. It improves patient-provider relationships in all capacities,” said Alaribe.

[More from Calbeth: Integrating Race Conversations Into Healthy Patient-Provider Interactions]

Volunteering for health and gender equality
“Everything I am doing now focuses on health disparities, serving underserved communities, providing care to BIPOC communities, preventative care, and maternal medicine. My driving force, the thing that pushed me to another level to improve health disparities from a clinical perspective and a systemic approach has been my mom,” said Alaribe. “My mom passed away in 2019 from sarcoidosis, which primarily affects African American women.”

In addition to Coyfish, Alaribe is the vice president of her cohort’s student society and is co-founder and co-chair of the Nigerian chapter of Woman in Global Health (WGH), which focuses on achieving gender equality in healthcare leadership.

A worthwhile whirlwind
Other PA students may look to Alaribe for inspiration on pursuing passion projects while in PA school. She recommends that students know their “why,” as well as their limitations, and make their passions their priorities. “It’s a whirlwind,” Alaribe admitted, “but it’s worth it.”

Caitlin Harrison is AAPA’s senior manager of Student Academy and Volunteer Engagement and Governance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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