James Dorroh

2017 Summer Scholar James Dorroh
2017 Summer Scholar


Prior to resuming his undergraduate studies in 2016, James Dorroh worked as a paramedic for six years for Wake County EMS in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dorroh was interested in medicine before becoming a paramedic, but on the job, he realized he loved patient care.

“I went back to Brown with the goal of applying and going to medical school,” Dorroh said.

Now, Dorroh is entering his second year of medical school at the University of Missouri, which he absolutely loves. He’s also the director of clinic services at MedZou Community Health Clinic, a student-run clinic providing uninsured patients with free access to primary care, several specialty services, medications and lab work.

As a Hassenfeld Child Health Summer Scholar in 2017, Dorroh worked with the Asthma Initiative to examine asthma among school-aged children and whether having school nurses and action plans makes an impact on the health outcomes and academic work of these children.

“As a paramedic, I had taken care of children with asthma, and it was rewarding to help a child who couldn’t breathe,” Dorroh said. “I knew a lot about asthma from an emergency medicine standpoint. Working in the asthma lab, I learned more about asthma management, different triggers and the role of the environment.”

Not only did the Summer Scholars Program provide Dorroh with the opportunity to do research in a lab, it also allowed him to gain hands-on experience with asthma patients through impact assessments conducted at the homes of children with asthma. These assessments, Dorroh said, spurred his interest in health determinants and health care equality.

For Dorroh, the highlight of the summer was teaching kids at an asthma camp in Exeter, Rhode Island, an experience that Dorroh described as both “educational and inspiring.” There, campers learn asthma management skills while enjoying typical camp experiences, such as swimming, canoeing and more.

“Some of the kids there have really severe asthma, so the camp gives them the opportunity to play with kids who have similar backgrounds and not feel like they’re different from their peers,” Dorroh said.

Dorroh’s faculty advisors, Daphne Koinis-Mitchell, Ph.D., and Elizabeth McQuaid, Ph.D., who co-lead the Asthma Initiative, helped Dorroh connect with emergency physicians conducting asthma research, including Dr. Nicholas Asselin, with whom Dorroh authored a paper.

“It was a fantastic mentoring experience. I’m so glad I did it. I had the choice of joining the Hassenfeld Summer Scholars Program or another program that summer, and I haven’t looked back,” Dorroh said.