Growing up in a family of health care professionals, Deirdre Wheat found medicine to be a natural career choice.
“I find the workings of the human body and the science behind diagnosing, treating and preventing illness to be nothing short of fascinating,” she said. “The reward of helping people attain and maintain health is fabulous, and is the greatest source of satisfaction for me.”
After earning a medical degree, she enrolled in UB’s General Preventive Medicine Residency Program and chose to pursue an MPH in epidemiology for the academic phase.
“Completing the MPH degree and preventive medicine residency have certainly added depth and breadth to my medical practice,” said Wheat, who is a medical specialist with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. “I am much more aware now of the many societal-level factors that can affect an individual’s health. I also appreciate the importance of addressing such factors if one is to really treat and prevent disease. From an academic perspective, the skills I have developed through the study of epidemiology, in particular, have been fundamental to my practice of evidence-based medicine and conduct of research.”
Through her UB education, Wheat said she developed a unique skill set that allows her to focus on preventing diseases in patients, rather than treating detected or established diseases. “I certainly feel more confident in critically evaluating scientific literature when preparing recommendations for patient treatment/management,” she said. “Additionally, and maybe most surprising to me, I have a new-found understanding, respect and enthusiasm for the role and importance of advocacy, something which is otherwise easy to set aside in our busy lives.”
Wheat also serves as a member of the faculty in UB’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and with the Behling Simulation Center, and is a strong advocate for the university’s MPH and preventive medicine residency programs.
“Both programs have a very strong component of individualization,” she said. “They can be fine-tuned to one’s particular interests, which makes the experiences both relevant and highly interesting.
“In both programs, faculty have an excellent rapport with students, allowing questions to be answered and issues to be addressed with ease. In addition, the diversity of backgrounds of my MPH classmates really enriched my experience as a student, and helped me to see issues from many different perspectives. Finally, I made many important personal and professional connections through the programs, which have led to several great opportunities for me.”