Ariana Kam

School: Doctoral Student, School of Medicine
Program: Doctor of Dental Medicine
Fulbright Country: Australia
Project Title: Narratives of Hope: Animating Substance User Experiences

In her undergraduate experience at Harvard, Ariana studied both Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Film/Video. Now, as a medical student at Boston University’s School of Medicine, she will combine all of her academic interests in a Fulbright experience in Australia. In her studies at BU, Ariana has witnessed firsthand the comorbid substance use and mental health disorders that plague Boston’s patient base. America’s emergent opioid epidemic, as Ariana notes in her proposal, is largely painted in a pessimistic light. She thinks that the discussion surrounding substance use disorders may be better informed by narratives of hope. As she learns patients’ stories, she intends to use animation to narrate them. In doing this, she allows patients to share their own experiences while teaching the general public about scientifically and medically complex issues. By studying the management of drug and alcohol use in Australia, the first nation in the English-speaking world to establish a healthcare system that has prevented incipient opioid crises, Ariana plans to see where Australia has surpassed the United States in the treatment of comorbid substance use and mental health disorders. In tandem, she will be able to see where Australian healthcare providers can still improve.