With parents from Sri Lanka, Canadian by birth, time spent in Australia as a teaching fellow, and working in rural India, Dr. Andrea Christopher’s perspective on the US healthcare system is broadly informed. Her passion for health equity motivates her interests in medical education, health policy research and clinical practice. She is the Clerkship Site Director at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and Associate Program Director for the UW Boise Internal Medicine Residency.
As a primary care provider at the VAMC, Dr. Christopher is very honored to serve our nation’s veterans. As a health services researcher, she focuses on disparities in access to healthcare for vulnerable populations. Her recent research projects examine the financial burden of out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures and the impact of being uninsured on chronic disease outcomes. In fact, this research was profiled in The Atlantic in 2018, bringing the idea of health equity to a general audience at the national level.
But she admits, “Teaching the next generation of physicians is what gets me out of bed in the morning.” Dr. Christopher supervises and teaches third year medical students on their internal medicine clerkships. She helped develop the Advocacy 101 course for physician trainees here become more effective advocates for their patients beyond the exam room. It was a real moment of pride for her to watch some advocate at the Idaho Capitol and argues how much responsibility physicians have as leaders in our community.
“I’m continually blown away by how readily we have access to changemakers in our community. I find it incredibly easy to connect with colleagues, community partners, and elected officials in Ada County.” She worked on the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in 2018 and serves on an equity advisory committee for new Boise Mayor Lauren McLean.
She completed her training at the UW Internal Medicine Residency in 2013, rotating as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Melbourne School of Medicine. She then returned to serve as Chief Medical Resident for the newly formed UW Boise Internal Medicine Residency, going onto Boston for a two-year General Internal Medicine Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, during which she earned a master’s degree at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
But she returned to Boise “because I found tremendous mentorship and role models here during my training. In particular, I was inspired by physicians who exemplified putting the patient first and their work-life balance.” Now, she considers it a huge privilege to help mentor future physicians as they grow in their career. “Seeing physician trainees’ enthusiasm for clinical medicine reinvigorates my practice. And, I hope our rapidly growing physician community continues to work towards improving healthcare systems thoughtfully to achieve The Quadruple Aim.” In 2018, she received Idaho WWAMI’s Excellence in Teaching award.
Last year, she and VAMC colleague Dr. Alicia Carrasco started working to grow the “Community for Inclusion in Healthcare” – a space to celebrate diversity, to network, and build an inclusive environment for all healthcare providers in the Treasure Valley. They’ve held a couple of different discussions and get-togethers, hoping to draw more into the conversation.
In her spare time, she loves recreational learning, including international travel, reading non-fiction and learning to cook different cuisines.