The Peer Patient: Mara Howard-William’s Path from Scoliosis Patient to Global Health Expert


Name: Mara Howard-Williams

Location: UNC, Chapel Hill.

Specialty: Former scoliosis patient and Graduate Research Assistant at America’s Health Rankings

I wish there were people my age I could have talked to.”-Mara Howard-Williams

Today we’re happy to welcome Mara Howard Williams to the show. Mara has traveled extensively throughout the US, and around the world supporting critical medical mission work. She currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at America’s Health Rankings while also pursing her masters in the School of Global Public Health at UNC, Chapel Hill.

Mara is a special guest for us because she’s also one of Keith’s former patients. Diagnosed in her early teens with advanced scoliosis, Mara underwent corrective deformity surgery (by Keith) when she was just fifteen years old. Following her recovery, Mara was asked to offer advice and help to several other young patients facing similar paths. Mara was happy to help, wishing she had had someone (her age) to talk with before her surgery. It didn’t take long for Mara to recognize that more than just a few kids needed help. She took the initiative and started an incredibly successful support network called BalkTalk. This was a place where kids could talk with, and ask questions of, peers just like themselves.

We’re going to learn more about Mara’s efforts and what it was like to be a young patient facing major surgery. We’ll also explore Mara’s medical mission work abroad. We covered the cultural dynamics of patient treatment, what medical NGO’s do well (and what they do not), how you can get involved, and the mistakes and legal oversights many physicians make when going on medical missions abroad. This was a fascinating episode we hope you enjoy listening to Mara as much as we did.

Links and more:

About Mara:

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