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The podcasts gathered on this page were created by students in “Using the COVID Pandemic to Understand Structural Drivers of Health Disparities” led by Drs. Giselle Corbie and Gabrielle Harris in Fall 2021. Students were tasked with recording a 20-30 minute episode on a social determinants of health topic covered in class for their final assignment. RADx-UP projects led by community-academic research teams working to address COVID-19 inequities were also included.

The UNC Center for Health Equity Research is sharing these podcast episodes under the series name Med Student Voices. This course is being led by Dr. Gabrielle Harris in Fall 2022; we will share podcasts from Fall 2022 in Spring 2023.

Fall 2021

Language Access for limited English proficient patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hosts: Cameron Morrison, Gema Rodriguez and Grace Ellis

Guests: Meagan Clawar and Daniella Runyambo of Refugee Community Partnership

COVID helped spotlight many of the issues within our healthcare system. One of these being the health disparities created when physicians do not speak the same language as their patients. In today’s podcast episode, we discuss the role COVID played in exacerbating language access disparities. We touch on language justice, interpreter services and how healthcare is delivered to non-English speakers in the United States. We invited three community members to share their thoughts on these topics, allowing us to explore the perspective of a community organization, a patient and a provider during the pandemic.

We would like to thank the Refugee Community Partnership members Meagan Clawar and Daniella Runyambo for sharing their thoughts. Finally, a special thanks to Keny Murillo for voicing and helping with the patient story translations.

We hope you enjoy the podcast episode!


The Impact of COVID on the Re-Entry Experience of Justice-Involved Individuals

Hosts: Oby Nwamu, Charlotte Smith and Sahana Raghunathan

Guests: Evan Ashkin, MD, Department of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, Director of the Formerly Incarcerated Transition (FIT) Program and Antonio Malone, Formerly Incarcerated Transition (FIT) Community Health Worker

Individuals who are involved with the criminal legal system face many barriers when reintegrating back into society. The COVID-19 pandemic added new difficulties to this vulnerable transition period. We explore these challenges with two experts: Dr. Evan Ashkin, a Family Medicine physician and Director of the Formerly Incarcerated Transition program, and Antonio Malone, a Community Health Worker who himself is formerly incarcerated. Together, we brainstorm and discuss how we, as a community, can help support individuals during this time of transition.

Additional resources:


Lifting Communication Burdens: How does perception of COVID information impact communities differentially?

Hosts: Aidan Walker, Laura Wiser and Justin Ochalek

Guests: health informatics researchers and practicing nurses:

  • Adriana Arcia, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Professor of Nursing at CUMC
  • Suzanne B. Bakken, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, FACMI, Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Alumni Professor of the School of Nursing

Laura, Aidan and Justin are second-year UNC medical students interested in how Covid-19 information is shared and understood among various diverse communities, as we all find ourselves in a very unique time of vaccine hesitancy in a worldwide pandemic. We have met with and interviewed two health informatics researchers and practicing nurses from Columbia University: Dr. Adriana Arcia and Dr. Suzanne Bakken. They are both health informatics researchers and professors, sharing information about their RADxUP project, a ReDIVis toolbox that aims to mitigate health disparities by creating culturally congruent and interactive infographics intended to provide accurate and accessible Covid-19 results and information. Our podcast includes information on their project, cultural competence, COVID vaccine hesitancy and how to integrate local community outreach with a larger, centralized Covid-19 task force.


Doherty, Irene A., William Pilkington, Laurin Brown, Victoria Billings, Undi Hoffler, Lisa Paulin, K. Sean Kimbro, et al. “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Underserved Communities of North Carolina.” PloS One 16, no. 11 (2021): e0248542.


COVID-19 susceptibility, prevention, and vaccine hesitancy in the American Indian community in Pembroke, North Carolina

Hosts: William Garrison, Alisa Suen-Wallach and Sean Connelly

Guests: anonymous Lumbee healthcare worker and Dr. Jada Brooks

We will be discussing how structural drivers of health contribute to COVID-19 susceptibility, prevention and vaccine hesitancy in the American Indian community in Pembroke, North Carolina. Our first interview is with a Lumbee healthcare worker who wishes to remain anonymous about how they have seen the COVID-19 pandemic affect their community. Next, we’ll speak with Dr. Jada Brooks, an Assistant professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing who is leading several projects to identify health disparities in the Lumbee community, as well as in American Indian women in general in order to support community engagement and health initiatives.


The Intersectionality of Race and Vaccine Hesitancy Amongst Healthcare Workers

Hosts: Jonathan Smith, Obi Achuko and John Farhat