March 27, 2015

Michael Clery, MD: Tackling health disparities

Dr. Michael Clery working in the Emergency Department

As a med student at the University of Michigan Medical School, Michael Clery, M.D., Class of 2014, co-founded the student-led Health Equity Scholars Program with six fellow M1s, contributed to the development of the Global Health & Disparities Path of Excellence, and earned a dual degree in Public Policy at Harvard.

Dr. Clery is now a first-year resident in the Emergency Medicine department at the University of Michigan Health System. He rotates between three emergency departments (University Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Health in Ann Arbor, and Hurley Hospital in Flint) as well as multiple ICU settings. He also works with doctors in several Detroit hospital emergency departments, bringing ER-based interventions for violently injured youth. He took a few moments out of his busy schedule to talk about the roots of his passion for ending health disparities, and how his training at Michigan prepared him to follow his dream.

“My interest in health disparities flows directly from being part of the health care community. I grew up in a small, rural town in central Michigan where sometimes friends, teammates and classmates went home to limited food, no heat, or wouldn’t see a doctor for illness because their family had limited resources. Understanding that such a reality exists — and believing that it should NOT — has opened my eyes as I have entered different communities throughout my personal and professional life. 

It’s not hard to see that the deck is always stacked against some patients, particularly poor individuals and people of color. Knowing that, the only way I can be a proud member of the health care community is to work on reshuffling these cards.

Michael Clery, MD, U-M Medical School Class of 2014

“Without a doubt the greatest benefit of training at the University of Michigan Medical School is the rigorous and well-developed curriculum. As I have stepped into other learning environments — from medical rotations to policy course work — I appreciate more and more how effectively designed and implemented the curriculum is at UMMS.

“While at Michigan, I found significant support to learn more about and work on issues of health equity, which were some of the most meaningful components of my education. The decision to pursue a dual degree Master in Public Policy started out of frustration. What I wanted to understand was how decisions are made (and money changes hands) to ultimately create the systems we have. I’m still trying to figure it out.

“Michigan made it incredibly easy to transition between the two schools’ schedules. In particular, the financial aid office made sure I wasn’t left without money or worrying about loan status while managing the stress of moving between cities and learning environments.

“I applied to Michigan for residency for three reasons: First, we have great ICU training, which is essential where the sickest patients roll in. Second, my mentor is doing the best research in the country on ER-based interventions to change the experience and trajectory of violently injured youth. Lastly, location. I love being close enough to Detroit to be involved with organizations and community events there, and the fact that I am only two-and-a-half hours away from my baby niece.

“It’s important to remember that your training in an academic medical center will be in a bubble of enormous resources and great privilege. But trust the process. Michigan will get you there.”