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The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards: General Staff Writing - Gold

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Pritzker School of Medicine alumni confront the epidemic of gun violence in America
Pritzker School of Medicine alumni confront the epidemic of gun violence in America

“Pritzker School of Medicine Alumni Confront the Epidemic of Gun Violence in America” by Jamie Bartosch
University of Chicago Medical Center

The story profiles four doctors – all University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine alumnae – who have personal connections to America’s gun violence epidemic and use their medical training to address the problem in different ways.

One profile is an ER doctor who grew up in a rough neighborhood near UChicago Medicine and lost his brother to Chicago’s gun violence. Now he treats gunshot patients at UChicago Medicine and does community outreach, advocacy and sports programs to help steer young people toward a better path. Another doctor lost a 7-year-old family member in the Sandy Hook school shooting, prompting her to launch a nonpartisan coalition that views gun violence as a public health crisis, and does research, clinical care and community engagement to reduce shootings. Another profile is an emergency medic who responded to the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. He described the chaotic scene of treating the wounded while the gunman was still shooting nearby. He helps cities with their medical response to mass shootings incidents. Another doctor, upset by news reports of gun violence on TV, created one of the world’s top NGOs, Cure Violence Global, which sends trained mediators or “interrupters” to encourage conflict resolution and behavioral changes.

“The root of everything I do is wishing I could change this gun violence, because we see young people die every day,” Pratt said. “I could just say, ‘That’s the way things are.’ But I don’t want to leave it that way. I’m in a position now to do something...”

Jamie Bartosch
Jamie Bartosch

What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?
It was impossible not to be impacted by each doctor’s heart-wrenching yet hopeful story. Their different approaches to curbing the problem gave me hope that gun violence could be on the decline.

What is one thing you learned from this experience?
The idea of treating gun violence as a public health epidemic is an interesting concept that I’d never considered before. If you think of it as a leading cause of death -- as if it were, say, heart disease -- you reframe it, do different research, and address it with innovative ideas.

What challenge did you overcome?
Scheduling time to meet with and talk with each of these doctors! They are all extremely busy people, because they’re doing clinical work, teaching, and involved in advocacy work.

What was the biggest challenge in writing about this topic?
Gun violence is such a giant, multi-faceted problem that’s facing the entire U.S. With so many people doing important, significant work, it was hard to just highlight a few.

Contact

Natalie Halley, natalie.halley@uchospitals.edu

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