Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at umassmed.edu/coronavirus

Search Close Search
Page Menu

Meet Our Fellowship Director

                                    
Olga Valdman, MD, director of the residency's Global Health Track and the Global Health Fellowship, can trace her own interest in international medicine to her past as an immigrant from Russia.

"Being an immigrant myself, I have a deep passion for working with immigrant and refugee populations, particularly in underserved communities," she explains during a recent conversation in her Family Health Center of Worcester (FHCW) office.

The 2009 UMass Medical School graduate completed her medical training at the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency and returned to her alma mater as a full-time faculty member at FHCW. In 2013, she took over the management of the residency's innovative Global Health Track, replacing Anna Doubeni, MD, who launched the program.

Olga's interest in global health was nurtured at UMass Medical School. Her extensive travels abroad include trips to the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mexico. But for all of her far-flung travels, she never quite left Worcester behind.

"I really missed Worcester. It has a sense of community I had not felt before," Olga says. "Diverse immigrant communities mix together here and this is exemplified at the FQHC where I see people from all over the world as my patients."

Dr. Valdman meeting with Family Medicine residents in Bangalore, India to
reflect
on the role of family medicine and the importance of patient advocacy.  

In her time away from central MA, Olga also missed working with the African community. As a medical student, Olga co-founded a highly respected and successful non-profit organization called the African Community Education program (ACE). ACE provides educational services for children who are refugees from various African countries, providing them with remedial education and psychosocial support. The organization partners with a host of local organizations, including the Worcester Public Schools, Catholic Charities and the Worcester Community Action Council. Olga continues to serve on ACE's Board of Directors, where she consults and offers support.

In 2014 Olga launched a GH fellowship based at FHCW with strong affiliation with UMass. Based on her own passion for local and global work, she has built a fellowship that uniquely focuses on just that. “It is very important to me that trainees don’t view Global Health as just “traveling somewhere for a few months to do something”. Our world is truly Global, our communities are interconnected and our patients from Liberia can be living in Monrovia or in Worcester depending on the day. We must foster these connections and apply what we learned in one country to our work in the other and vice versa.”

In 2017, Umass was awarded a prestigious USAID PEER-Liberia grant and Olga has been leading the Family Medicine arm of that grant on the Umass side. She has taken that opportunity to integrate the GH fellows and GHT residents into the partnership as well. Now her time is split between leading the fellowship and track, running the refugee clinic at FHCW, the Liberia partnership and seeing her own patients at Queen street while also trying to sneak in her favorite continuity deliveries.

"I have a hands-down perfect job here at Queen Street," Olga emphasizes. "I work at a FQHC with a diverse population, I do obstetrics, teach residents and focus on global health, all at the same time."

To learn more about the Global Health Track or the ACE program, please contact Olga at Olga.Valdman2@umassmed.edu.