Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Bulat Idrisov

Russia

MS '14

Fulbright recipient acquires skills to go beyond clinical medicine

Bulat Idrisov aims to be a bridge between policy makers and health care providers

How can you be Russian but not Russian? That’s a question that Bulat Idrisov poses about himself. Though born in Russia, his ancestry is complex. Growing up south of the Ural Mountains, where Europe meets Asia, in Bashkortostan, a Russian republic about the size of Iowa, Idrisov was descended from the indigenous people of the area, who have Turkic roots. Growing up, he learned both Turkish, English as well as his native Russian, Bashkir and Tatar languages. From boyhood, his strong interest was always medicine, mirroring his father and grandfather, both physicians.

He studied for seven years to complete his medical training in pediatrics and during that time had the opportunity to then travel to the U.S. to examine differences between health systems in the U.S. and Russia.

Idrisov observed dramatic differences in surgery, working environment, technology and doctor-patient relationships between his home country and South Carolina, where he practiced at a hospital. Continuing to compare health care systems in different parts of the world, he lived briefly in Bologna, Italy before returning to the U.S. He says that “the differences between American, Russian and Italian hospital practices were greater than I expected.”  

“While interacting with staff and patients in the Transplantology Ward, I increased my knowledge about health care in European countries, he says. “There was a dramatic difference in price of health care, accessibility, and clinical decision-making process, organ harvesting and donation procedures, and advanced technologies used at the transplant ward. Because there are little to no transplant services in my country, I was also highly impressed by the waiting list and database for organ donation.”  

This time, at the University of Southern California (USC), Idrisov collaborated with other researchers to adapt an evidence-based tobacco use cessation program for adolescents in Russia. While working at Children Regional Hospital in Russia Idrisov’s interest in comparative health care systems required a skill set beyond what his clinical training alone provided.  So he applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship and was subsequently assigned to attend the Heller School in the Master of Science in International Health Policy and Management (MS) program which paralleled what he wanted to study.

“I was eager to learn, apply and spread knowledge about successfully organized health systems around the world,” he says.

Idrisov’s list of learning objectives included international health systems, health care policy and global health, a perfect fit with Heller’s MS program.

“I was eager to come to Heller, after researching more about it, despite Fulbright’s policy of making the selections,” he says.

Even before coming into Heller’s buildings, Idrisov found the Brandeis campus friendly, calm and welcoming.

“The students are great and Heller feels like the United Nations, so many countries represented, so many languages spoken, so many passionate, friendly students always learning from each other even beyond their studies,” he says.

“Our professors are really great right from orientation; they are approachable and helpful, have an open door policy and if you have a problem or just want to chat, that open door is great. They all know what they are doing. Even Heller’s career development office is right there with you from the beginning to show you how your new skills translate into your future career. The curriculum is so pertinent to what I want to learn that I opted for 20 credits [the minimum is 16] because it's so hard to eliminate anything,” he says.

Idrisov’s future ambition is to be a bridge between policy makers and service providers back in his home Russia. Here in Greater Boston, he is already constructing that bridge, taking advantage of Boston’s resources even beyond the Brandeis campus by meeting regularly with colleagues at Boston Medical Center who are studying drug abuse in Russia.

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