As an eighth grade student, I picked up the novel “Mountains Beyond Mountains” in preparation for a high school course. The novel, which chronicles the creation of international aid organization Partners In Health, inspired me deeply. It gave great examples of community-based solutions to global health disparities. While discussing the notion of health as a civil right, my middle school instructor challenged students to view this novel through the lens of the United Nations and article twenty-five of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since that moment, I’ve found myself continually drawn towards effective means of public health intervention.
With demography and social stratification as my focus, I completed my undergraduate work through an internship in Pen, India. My gratitude for this opportunity cannot be overstated, where duties included conducting nutritional surveys of tribal villages, assisting the Mobile Health Unit (a traveling dispensary), taking body mass index measurements and lastly, organizing these tasks into a health pamphlet for donors, staff and clients. Upon my return, I spent two years focusing on public health initiatives for the pandemic flu and measles, emergency response and CPR/1st Aid instruction through AmeriCorps at the Red Cross.
My most recent position helped reignite a passion for primary care and health disparities through work with blood/platelet/plasma transfusion recipients. Many of these patients are part of the at-risk population for organ and/or bone marrow transplantation. Between access to health services, waiting list ratings (due to prohibitive risk factors) and donor organ shortages (due to ethnic background/blood type and donor pool availability), this diagnostic group is one I’ve grown familiar with and hope to focus on for future internship and career prospects.
There is a fragile infrastructure for preventative health in the United States. Rarely is there a consensus for nutrition education, reproductive health, or even environmental improvement of air and water. This has resulted in unnecessary complications for people suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma and other conditions. Instead of individuals managing these health concerns, the trend has become a reliance on last-minute “rescue” medicine. This behavior is both expensive and dangerous for the patient. Our country is facing an historical moment in the future of health care.
I’ve felt extraordinary satisfaction from small actions such as caring for displaced individuals during Hurricane Ike or developing a nutrition report in rural India. The impact of sound public health rationale on a population is cathartic to witness.
Individuals, in every community on a global scale, have the right and responsibility to improved health care. By creating this bond, or trust, between individuals and health professionals, self-advocacy will occur. It is this outcome that ignites my passion for a public health career.