Riya Babu (she/her/hers)
Prior to volunteering at IDEA Exchange, I had no knowledge of harm reduction. I initially signed up as a volunteer assuming that IDEA exchange was another medical mobile clinic that focused mainly on providing care from a strictly medical perspective such as wound care. Coming in with that mentality, my first day volunteering was a bit of a shock. I was partially correct since some of that traditional medical care was involved; however, I quickly realized IDEA Exchange is more than a mobile clinic and provides the support, resources, and supplies necessary to reduce the harms and stigma associated with drug use and addiction.
My experiences with the staff and participants made me realize all that harm reduction entails and inspired me to incorporate these values into my future career as a physician. I aspire to establish a safe and supportive environment that does not discriminate or judge anyone but rather focuses on ways to support each individual based on their specific needs and at their own pace.