Monica Bharel, MD, MPH

Class year: 1994Bharel, Monica
Current practice: Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Fond memory of BUSM:
At BUSM I learned about the importance of the social determinants of health on a patient’s ability to stay healthy and fight disease. BUSM is a unique place where the core mission of care brings many professionals together to work towards justice and fairness in health. From my classroom and clinical professors and mentors, I felt fortunate to learn from the best. And my best teachers were always my patients. As a third year medical student I got to know “Glen” very well. He was living at the shelter and had a mistrust of the medical system. One of the true highlights of medical school was getting to know him and developing a trusting relationship with him that helped him develop a more healthy relationship with the health care system and get the treatment he desperately needed.

Most recent accomplishment:
I have had the distinct honor of spending the last 20 years working at the intersection of medical care and public health, treating medical disease in community settings. Since 2015, I have had the privilege to use this clinical experience to help develop health policy at the state level as the Commissioner of Public Health. Over the last three years at the Department of Public Health we have been working hard to address the current opioid epidemic. This epidemic has devastated individuals and communities across the state. We have implemented a public health response focused on preventing opioid use disorder, expanding access to opioid reversal agents, empowering prescribers with enhanced prescription monitoring tools and expanding access to treatment and recovery. After several years of rising deaths, I have been encouraged by the decrease in the opioid deaths in 2017 and I am hopeful and encouraged that this trend will continue. Substance use disorder was a medical disease that many of my patients at BUSM suffered from and I have a deep personal drive to improve the system of care for patients with this important medical disorder.

Hobbies outside of work:
I think taking care of oneself is a really important part of being successful. Finding short periods of time to do what I love is always a challenge but also extremely important. I love exercise, hiking, traveling, photography and spending quality time with my family and friends.

Recent publication:
Developing Core Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Prescription Drug Misuse: A Medical Education Collaboration in Massachusetts. Antman KH, Berman HA, Flotte TR, Flier J, Dimitri DM, Bharel M. Acad Med. 2016 Oct;91(10):1348-1351.

Massachusetts Dental Schools Respond to the Prescription Opioid Crisis: A Statewide Collaboration. Keith DA, Kulich RJ, Bharel M, Boose RE, Brownstein J, Da Silva JD, D’Innocenzo R, Donoff RB, Factor E, Hutter JW, Shaefer JR, Karimbux NY, Jack H, Thomas HF. J Dent Educ. 2017 Dec;81(12):1388-1394

Emergency Care for Homeless Patients: A Window Into the Health Needs of Vulnerable Populations. Bharel M Am J Public Health. 2016 May;106(5):784-5.

Doctoring for the homeless: caring for the most vulnerable by building trust. Bharel M. AMA J Ethics. 2015 May 1;17(5):469-72