Monday, April 25, 2016

Hewett Chiu (LS ’11, CAS ’14, Wagner ’15) on Making Healthcare More Accessible and Influencing Public Policy

Hewett Chiu
Can you tell us about your work?

I am President and CEO of the Academy of Medical & Public Health Services (AMPHS), a not-for-profit organization based in Brooklyn, New York, where I am from originally. We work to de-institutionalize and de-stigmatize the access of much-needed healthcare to vulnerable populations, particularly the immigrant population of New York City. These communities experience barriers to medical care for a variety of reasons, and AMPHS aims to create a safe haven and a comfortable environment for these individuals to access healthcare.

You are also co-founder of AMPHS. What motivated you to create the organization?

It started during my freshman year at NYU.  I was the president of a club that I also founded, the Emergency Health Education club. Our mission was to bring public health awareness to students at NYU.
Hewett Chiu: his story continues

We quickly realized that we could develop the mission to be much broader, to serve the larger New York City community. In March 2010, we transformed from a student-run group into a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and AMPHS grew from there. Now we offer clinical services, social services, and health advocacy clinics. We participate in city-wide legislative and health policy processes.  And we are engaging in direct-service work with communities that need assistance in accessing healthcare.

How did you become involved in healthcare?

I had always had an interest in the field and I joined the Red Cross as a youth volunteer my freshman year of high school. I was soon given the opportunity to become a certified teaching assistant, called an Instructor Aide, to help teach CPR and first aid classes. I received my national certification at age 15, the youngest age possible to qualify. I loved teaching groups of nurse practitioners and healthcare professionals working in the industry. I also became an Emergency Cardiovascular Care instructor for the American Heart Association.

In my junior year of high school, I lost my mother to cancer unexpectedly. Experiencing the challenges and complexities of navigating the medical system motivated me to want to do something to help other families who may be undergoing something similar.

What was your experience at NYU as a student in Liberal Studies, CAS and Wagner?

I contemplated pursuing a joint BA-MD program, with the end goal of becoming a physician, but instead decided that I wanted to give myself a traditional, four-year college experience. Attending the Liberal Studies core program at NYU was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t think I would have continued on to the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service without that foundation in the liberal arts. At Wagner, I created a customized program in healthcare, law and finance. My multi-disciplinary education has allowed me to approach healthcare with an emphasis on the patient’s experience.

Can you tell us about your experience returning to campus as an Adjunct Lecturer at Wagner?

I love it, because it helps me build off of the teaching experience I have had since I was a Red Cross instructor in high school. I had previously been a student in the same class that I am teaching now, Managing Public Service Organizations, and I am able to bring that perspective while also giving advice for how to apply the concepts from class to real life situations.

What is your advice for managing your time and balancing multiple projects?

Be realistic. It sounds simple, but sometimes it is harder than you realize, especially if you are managing multiple projects. Individually, in each aspect of your life, it may seem feasible to take on more responsibility, but it is important to look at your commitments as a whole, so you do not promise things you can’t deliver. Think about stepping back and evaluating where you want to go and prioritizing accordingly.

What are you most proud of?

Last summer I was named a Margaret E. Mahoney Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. It was the first time it was awarded to a member of the NYU community, and the first time a public health administrator received the fellowship.

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