Eva Moore '94

Clinical Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada

When a teenager is referred to Pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine specialist Eva Moore ’94, something is usually not right: he or she may not be able to attend school, or is having family problems, or doesn’t have friends, or has a stomach ache that won’t go away. Helping teens cope with their issues is what Eva looks forward to every day.

“I love teenagers. I’m drawn to their sense of discovering the world and coming into themselves,” says Eva, who is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

One third of Eva’s time is spent with teens who have eating disorders and another third with vulnerable populations who are dealing with health inequalities and disparities. Her research focuses on at-risk youth, especially addressing the needs of teens in foster care. Because many at-risk youth shy away from doctor’s offices, Eva finds ways to meet with them in the community.

Addressing health disparities

“I seek alternatives, such as a clinic at a community center, or an alternative school, or even a nearby park setting,” explains
Eva. Her approach is to engage the teen in a mutual partnership of care. “When I’m with a patient, we’re in it together. We figure out how to work toward a solution. I ask myself, how can I use a picture to convey that to her? How do I talk in language that makes sense to her?”

Eva holds a degree in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College. She attended medical school at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, and completed her pediatric residency at University of Washington, where she worked closely with recent immigrant families in her weekly clinic at Harborview Medical Center. Then, she returned to Johns Hopkins for another four years to complete a Master of Science in Public Health as well as an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship, concentrating on structural and public health interventions to reduce health disparities and HIV. In Baltimore, Eva worked with poor African- American families, and now in Vancouver, with Native Canadian (First Nation) families.

“There is not a fair sprinkling of disease,” asserts Eva, who believes that improving people’s social situations and poverty will be a major contributor to decreasing cancer and heart disease. “So much of what we see in the clinic is driven by those social determinants. In America, four million people are living on two dollars a day or less. This explains a lot of what I saw while working in Baltimore and Seattle — how little people have to work with.”

Research as advocacy

Eva has targeted her research to be a powerful form of advocacy. One project she worked on in Baltimore was with young women involved in exotic dancing. She and her team set up a mobile clinic in a health van to provide birth control.

"We found the women really used that service. This surprised some sceptics because lots of clinics in Baltimore provide free access to birth control but these young women weren’t taking advantage of it,” reveals Eva. “What helped was the fact that we came to their environment; they felt comfortable and did not feel judged.”

Eva and her colleagues found the women were quite responsible: they came back and got the refills. "That kind of research becomes advocacy. We were able to advocate to the Health Department to provide that access. It made an impact."

Eva says her strong desire to help address health disparities began at The Northwest School. She vividly recalls being challenged to question what she was being told to accept.

“Paul Raymond taught me a lot about social disparities, treating others with respect, and advocacy — standing up for others,” confirms Eva. “He planted the seed in me to fight for those who may be in compromising circumstances."

Social and moral groundwork

In Advanced Chemistry class, Eva learned another important skill that has informed her career: namely, how to work with a team.
“On the first day, Renee Fredrickson presented us with 12 beakers full of various different substances and told us to figure out what those substances were,” recalls Eva. "It was incredibly hard; I couldn't see the end. But as you start to break it down, you begin to get some hypotheses and test those hypotheses. It was about working as a team: 'You look it up in this book; I'll look it up over here.' It was a great experience."

Exploring and working with others, as well as having discussions about science between classes with her Upper School friends, gave Eva skills she now uses every day. “In medicine, you are working with others all the time — the administrators, the patients, the parents. You’re constantly interacting all day long.”

Some of her strongest grounding came from the Environment Program, according to Eva. "We thought of the main building as our grandmother, and everyone's caring role was important — it wasn't about following someone else's rules," says Eva. "Northwest laid the foundation of social and moral teaching that extended beyond the curriculum. The constant message was: We are all responsible, and we're all in this together."

This profile originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of The Northwest School Magazine.