I’m originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan and I originally trained in aeronautical engineering as an undergraduate. I worked for a couple years in the aircraft industry but ultimately decided to make a career change, and after taking time off to travel in Latin America, I decided to go into medicine. I went to medical school in Detroit, Michigan which had a profound impact on my career trajectory. I saw the numerous barriers to healthcare in place in predominantly low-income communities and the struggle that many had to provide nutritious meals and clean water for their families. After medical school I came out to Los Angeles to train at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center as a family medicine physician because I believe that family doctors can make the biggest impact on underserved communities and are the best placed to most effectively advocate for the communities that they serve.
[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”left”]I wanted to have a place that I could channel my energy to create change with other like-minded physicians and allies[/pullquote3]
I joined the Health Ambassador Program because I feel like it’s not enough to simply be educated about or be aware of injustice but to actively work to correct it. I joined this program in particular because I know of PSR as a national advocacy organization that has worked in the past and continues to work towards creating a better future and improving the health of all people. I wanted to have a place that I could channel my energy to create change with other like-minded physicians and allies.
My goals as a health advocate will be to work towards improving the health of the people that I serve as a physician by working to improve air quality, lessen the disproportionate burden from industrial activity on poor communities, and fight to create a more sustainable and just future for all!
Dr. Caleb VanderVeen is a Health Ambassador in the Air & Climate Justice Program with Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles