Health Design Thinker
Dr. Kate Martin


Starting with WHY

My brother Michael and me, foreground, with our parents.

Starting with WHY

Kate Martin, MD | February 19, 2022

Shout out to the legendary Simon Sinek; it seemed only fitting to begin this blog with my WHY, or “the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” I grew up alongside my intellectually and physically disabled brother, Michael. I wrote about that experience and how it shaped my career in academic medicine in this JAMA opinion piece. Although my brother passed away two years ago, he permanently opened the door to a world I would not have otherwise known about.

As a physician, I aim to promote the health and wellbeing of everyone. However, the current US healthcare system was not designed to meet everyone’s (or anyone’s) needs. Sometimes I wonder if patients were a mere afterthought. It can and should do so much better. People living “at the margins” often end up struggling to pay for their medications each month. Many also can’t see a doctor. Physicians don’t accept or limit the number of patients they see who have publicly-funded insurance such as Medicaid and there’s a significant doctor shortage, as exemplified best in my state of Nevada.

The Covid-19 pandemic further exposed the chasms in an already fragmented and inequitable healthcare system. It might seem easy to look away as you try to resume a normal post-omicron existence. Then again, if the Covid experience taught us anything, it’s that we’re all vulnerable. As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

What’s your WHY?


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