Meharry student Toni Aluko wins medical mission to Haiti in Ripple Effect Contest

No Comments » January 29th, 2014 posted by // Categories: Health


Meharry student wins medical mission to Haiti

Jan. 29, 2014

Oluwatoni Aluko, medical student at Meharry Medical College and the first winner of the Ripple Effect Contest, reacts as she learns she is the recipient.

Oluwatoni Aluko, medical student at Meharry Medical College and the first winner of the Ripple Effect Contest, reacts as she learns she is the recipient. / Joe Baker / Meharry Vanderbilt Alliance

A Nashville student’s vision of creating a ripple effect of good around the world brought national recognition Wednesday to Meharry Medical College, a school long known for its emphasis on serving those with the greatest need for medical care.

In a first-of-its-kind national contest, second-year student Oluwatoni Aluko won the opportunity to go on a medical mission this summer to Haiti, where she will work with doctors and aid workers helping the needy.

Aluko was one of two winners of the Ripple Effect Contest, a national award presented by nonprofit Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn, a distributor of medical supplies.

She won with a 30-second video about her passion for global health, but she didn’t know she was a winner until Wednesday. Representatives from the sponsoring companies held what Aluko thought was an informational meeting. Then, they announced the winner by playing her video.

“When I saw my video come up,” Aluko said, “my blood pressure went up. My heart started racing!”

Aluko wants to focus on primary care and hopes to gain experience with that in Haiti.

“There are barriers to care,” Aluko said. “A lot of times it’s money, sometimes it’s transportation, not having electricity or water. If you don’t address the public health aspect of the care, you’re constantly going to have the same issues.”

Aluko sees education as the way to prevent those issues.

“I eventually want to work in academic medicine, so I hope I can help lead students on these types of trips, particularly students who are underrepresented in medicine. Being able to have a perspective of the world outside our little bubble is really important. It helps you not take anything for granted.”

Aluko knows, though, that preparing isn’t always enough.

“When you go to another environment, sometimes all you have is your stethoscope, your hands, your eyes and your senses,” Aluko said. “It’s really humbling. I hope it makes me a better physician, because I want to do family medicine and primary care. I hope it makes me a better human being overall.”

Reach Carly Bergthold at (615) 259-8088.


First Ripple Effect Contest Winner Announced Today in Nashville



First Ripple Effect Contest Winner Announced Today in Nashville

Student from Meharry Medical College to join Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn on a Humanitarian Service Trip to Haiti

Nashville, TN, January 29, 2014— Oluwatoni Aluko, a second year medical student enrolled atMeharry Medical College, won’t have to wait to finish medical school before she will start making a difference in the lives of real people. Aluko is the first winner of the Ripple Effect Contest, a joint initiative created by Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn, and is one of two students to win a humanitarian service trip to Haiti to work alongside physicians and aid workers this summer.  Aluko submitted a short video titled ‘What do you live for’ which a panel of judges from Heart to Heart International, Welch Allyn and the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) deemed superior for its personality, passion, creativity, sincerity and quality of expression.  The second winning entry will be announced in February.

“We are thrilled that Oluwatoni will be joining the Welch Allyn team to volunteer in Haiti with us this summer,” said Krystal Barr, interim CEO, Heart to Heart International.  “Volunteering is at the core of our DNA and we hope her volunteer experience will be inspirational and encourage others to share their time and talents as well.   She’s well on her way to creating her own ripple effect for this world in need.”

The inaugural Ripple Effect Contest encouraged medical students to turn to social media to share how they will create their own “ripple effect” of good in their own community or around the world. Entrants were asked to simply ‘like’ the Ripple Effect program page on Facebook and share a picture or short video that showcases their “ripple effect”—a brief narrative about how they will “change the world” by using their training to help those in greatest need. “Congratulations to Oluwatoni for the brilliant and inspiring video she produced,” said Charles P. Mouton, M.D., M.S., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, Meharry School of Medicine. “Ms. Aluko is being trained, as are all of our Meharry students, to treat patients with knowledge, skills and most importantly, with compassion, adhering to Meharry’s motto: ‘Worship of God Through Service to Mankind.’ I have no doubt she will excel in her mission to Haiti.”

Under Ripple Effect, Welch Allyn, a leading medical diagnostic device company that delivers pragmatic innovation at the point of care, provides up to $125 in merchandise credits to Heart to Heart International when a student purchases select Welch Allyn diagnostic instruments.1  Heart to Heart International, a nonprofit medical aid organization, uses the credits to acquire Welch Allyn devices for use in its global humanitarian programs, disaster relief, and health professional training for underserved populations.

Reliable medical instruments play a critical role in helping physicians make key assessments, which informs diagnosis and helps them improve care for their patients. When physicians are equipped with the proper medical instruments their ability to assess, diagnose, treat and manage a wide variety of illnesses and diseases, and care for more patients, increases. In many places, medical providers do not have access to even basic diagnostic equipment, limiting their ability to provide quality care to patients and communities.

“Welch Allyn is proud to partner with Heart to Heart International to offer a way for medical students to start making a difference in people’s lives long before their first residency,” said David Allyn, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Welch Allyn. “By simply participating in the Ripple Effect Contest two lucky med students have been given an opportunity to participate in a life-changing humanitarian service trip to support people in need. Further, Welch Allyn is honored to be able to provide some of the equipment the students, physicians and aid workers will use on the trip to improve care in places where it is needed most.  It’s amazing to think it will be used on patients who may have never seen a doctor before.  It may even be used to save a life.”

Ripple Effect credits have enabled Heart to Heart International to acquire more than $10 million worth of medical equipment from Welch Allyn to help clinicians deliver vital patient care in the places that need it most.  Welch Allyn employees have also contributed many hours of volunteer time both at home and abroad.

About Heart to Heart International 
Heart to Heart International is an international nonprofit health organization.  Since its founding in 1992, Heart to Heart International has delivered medical aid and supplies worth more than $1 billion to more than 150 countries, including the United States.  Heart to Heart International responds to crises and natural disasters both domestically and internationally by supplying medical relief and mobilizing volunteers. Heart to Heart International broadens access to healthcare with medical education opportunities and lab standards training around the U.S. and in Haiti, and works with U.S. safety-net
clinics to increase their capacity by providing medical equipment, supplies and volunteers that are vital to operations. The organization has been named to Forbes magazine’s “America’s 200 Largest Charities,” is on the “Philanthropy 400,” and is a Charity Navigator 4-Star charity three years in a row. For more information on its programs and ways to get involved, visit or find Heart to Heart International on Facebook.

About Meharry Medical College
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Meharry Medical College is one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically black academic health science centers dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers, and health policy experts. Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, Meharry was the first medical school in the South for African Americans. It was chartered separately in 1915. Today, Meharry includes a medical schooldental school, and agraduate school; and is home to the
Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at Meharry. The degrees include Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

Meharry is a United Methodist Church-affiliated institution. A 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine ranked Meharry as one of the nation’s top five producers of primary care physicians. Meharry is also a leading producer of African Americans with Ph.Ds. in biomedical sciences. In addition to providing quality professional health care education, exemplary patient care, and compassionate community outreach, Meharry Medical College produces the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserveda public health journal.

About Welch Allyn
Welch Allyn is a leading global healthcare company that offers a complete range of digital and connected diagnostic solutions that help reduce risk and enhance workflow in a variety of clinical settings. Founded in 1915 and headquartered in Skaneateles Falls, N.Y. (USA), Welch Allyn is a family-owned business that employs nearly 2,500 employees in 26 different countries. The company specializes in helping doctors, nurses and other frontline practitioners across the globe enhance care by developing innovative products, breakthrough technologies and cutting-edge solutions that improve patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction. More information about Welch
Allyn and its complete line of connected products and solutions may be found Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

1  Medical students in all accredited MD, DO, PA, NP, ND and DC schools in the 50 United States and District of Columbia are eligible to participate in Ripple Effect.  For each sale of select diagnostic sets, blood pressure gauges, and stethoscopes purchased during each school’s annual organized medical equipment “sale day,” Welch Allyn will provide a designated merchandise credit to Heart to Heart International.   Heart to Heart applies these credits toward acquisition of Welch Allyn devices for use in its programs around the world.

When you purchase: Welch Allyn will provide the following merchandise credit to Heart to Heart:
One Full-sized 3.5 V Diagnostic Set $75.00
One Durashock™ Blood Pressure Gauge $25.00
One Cardiology-grade (dual-bore) Stethoscope $25.00
Maximum merchandise credit per student per “sale day” $125.00

Each school determines the date of its sale day, which occurs only once per academic year; Welch Allyn is not responsible for the sale day date at any school. ONLY PURCHASES MADE ON THE DESIGNATED “SALE DAY” WILL RESULT IN CREDITS TO HEART TO HEART.


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