Dr. Ashley DeHudy, a local pediatrician, recently spoke at our Annual Meeting in March 2018. Like many of our fellows, she began the program with experience in environmental health. While Ashley was in medical school, her passion for the environment changed how she saw her patient’s problems:
“As a medical student, I viewed most patient cases through my toxicology-trained eye. Did an environmental exposure lead to this cancer? How was this child exposed to lead? Why are these things happening and how can we stop them?”
During her residency, Ashley joined her colleagues at the University of Michigan on trips to the state capitol. In Lansing, she learned that many of the people who represent us don’t often know much about health or the environment:
“Our legislators make important decisions every day, often on issues related to environmental health. I recognized that as a health professional, I have a unique opportunity to educate lawmakers and help them make a more informed decision.”
Ashley knew she had to do more. She needed to raise awareness about toxic chemical exposures and their effects on our bodies. One of her colleagues recommended that she apply to the fellowship program. Ashley jumped at the opportunity.
We are all lucky that she did. During her fellowship year, Ashley made a big impact. She spoke out on behalf of getting rid of dirty, diesel-fueled school buses and replacing them with electric buses. As a doctor, she was uniquely qualified to explain how cleaner air benefits children’s hearts and lungs.
Ashley also used her fellowship training to reach out to other doctors. She gave talks to residents at her hospital and to the pediatric faculty. She spoke to the residents about the harm caused by lead and arsenic exposure. Additionally, she discussed toxic chemicals in children's car seats with her department. Thanks to Ashley, her colleagues are more aware of the dangers of toxic chemicals in our homes and communities.
The fellowship program taught Ashley how to talk about protecting the environment. It helped show her the actions she could take to change hearts and minds on this issue. Now, she feels more prepared to advocate for her patients:
“Without question, the Health Leaders Fellowship has made me a more confident and effective leader. I greatly value the friendships and connections I’ve made –and look forward to collaborating for years to come. The Health Leaders Fellowship has inspired me to take action, seek out opportunities, and work to make this world a healthier, greener place for everyone and everything.”
We are so grateful for Ashley and for all of our fellows who help keep people healthy and safe.
Ashley DeHudy served as a Health Leaders Fellow at the Ecology Center in 2017-18. She is a practicing primary care pediatrician.
Published on March 27, 2018