David Beversluis ’04 strikes a balance between exploration, adventure, and accomplishing good in the world. He works in the emergency room at the University of Southern California’s Los Angeles County hospital six months of the year and then heads overseas to work six months for Doctors Without Borders. His Christian faith is a deep motivation for his work. “I have one opportunity to live a good life, and my desire to serve and to be an advocate for those less fortunate than me comes from that deep motivation of faith and the things that were instilled in me and shown to be important to me at Calvin,” he said.
When he came to Calvin, he didn’t know that he wanted to do international global health work. He was interested in chemistry and loved the intellectual components of science. Majoring in both biochemistry and German set him on a path toward a career in global health. “Calvin gave me a global perspective and a desire to go out and explore the world,” he said. “Calvin opened up a lot of things for me, and it helped me see the wider world outside of Grand Rapids.” As a sophomore, he spent six months overseas learning German and was exposed to international geopolitics. Through that experience, he started seeing the ways that health care could be combined with politics. He had been trying to connect his interest in international politics with medicine; global public health and humanitarian work combined all his interests.
After graduating, he took a year to explore international health topics and worked at establishing small pharmacies for World Vision in Kenya. He then headed to Honduras, using some of the Calvin connections he had there. It was eye-opening for him to learn what it is like for people who live in poverty. Ultimately, Beversluis applied to Case Western in Cleveland for medical school because their program gave him access to global health programs. Along with his MD, he obtained a master’s in public health. He completed a four-year residency in emergency medicine at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 2014 he completed his schooling and decided to jump into international work by joining Doctors Without Borders, and since then he devotes about half of his time overseas. It took some creative thinking at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center to let him work there for just six months of the year, but they agreed.
While Beversluis loves the face-to-face work with patients in the ER, he feels called to help the 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world. Doctors Without Borders allows him to do that. Recent deployments have taken him to southern Bangladesh and also had him serving aboard the search and rescue ship Aquarius.
In Bangladesh he spent time helping the more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar after genocide began against them in 2017. Doctors Without Borders has helped to create semi-permanent fixtures to treat the sick and malnourished in the camps.
His most recent deployment had him helping refugees aboard the Aquarius in the Mediterranean. The work was a combination of rescuing people from small rubber dinghies and then caring for refugees on the ship. Through his work, Beversluis sees Calvin’s mission embedded deep within him: “My life goal is to continue to use my voice and training to speak out on behalf of marginalized people, first by taking care of them as patients, but then also as a public advocate for their humanity."