Abdullah Pratt, an emergency medicine physician and the faculty director of community engagement at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has developed programs to address gun violence and health inequities in Chicago. Pratt’s interest in science and sports was sparked by his older brother Rashad, who excelled in these areas. However, Pratt’s perspective changed in 2012 when Rashad was shot and killed in Chicago’s South Side.
Chicago has a gun-homicide rate four times the national average, with 90% of all homicides involving gun use, primarily affecting young Black men. In that same year, Pratt lost several close friends and high school classmates to gun violence. Motivated by these experiences, Pratt engaged in community activities such as mentoring youth football players and judging science fairs.
Through community engagement, Pratt met Monica Peek, an emergency physician who became his mentor in understanding and researching health inequities. Pratt utilized his life experiences and the needs of the community to develop programs aimed at preserving lives, engaging youth, inspiring them to pursue medical careers, and helping them cope with traumatic experiences.
One of the programs Pratt developed is the Trauma Recovery and Prevention of Violence (TRAP Violence) program. This initiative brings hospital resources from trauma centers to schools in order to support youth before they experience firearm injuries. Another program, the Medical Careers Exposure and Emergency Preparedness Program (MedCEEP), provides training to young people on how to deal with emergencies like gunshot wounds or cardiac arrest. This training has empowered many participants to pursue medical careers.
Over 8,000 young people have been trained through these programs, with a significant number expressing interest in medical careers. However, Pratt acknowledges that not every injury can be prevented, as he recently learned that one of the program participants was killed.
Pratt believes that gun control and trauma-informed care from a young age are essential solutions to address the issue of gun violence. He hopes that other trauma centers and emergency rooms will look to the University of Chicago Medical Center as a model for preventing injuries caused by gun violence.