Article on Global Citizenship


No Blood in Prevention

When I was younger, my dream was to become a doctor.  I always knew that I wanted to help people improve their lives, and I was interested in healtcare, therefore I figured a career in medicine would be the best option for me.  I made becoming a doctor my goal and I worked really hard to make it happen.  Everything was going according to plan until one fateful day in the 2nd grade.   A freak accident during a routine art project caused me to staple a piece of construction paper to my left index finger.  My teacher promptly sent me to the nurse’s office and it was on the walk up that I discovered I would never become a doctor.  At the first sight of blood oozing from my wound, I began to feel nauseated.  I fainted right on the spot.  So there I was, a scrawny seven year old, passed out on the grass in front of the nurse’s office, with a shattered life’s dream and a piece of freaking construction paper stapled to my finger.

Fast forward approximately twenty years later.  My desire to help people improve their lives through the betterment of their health still remains.  Only now, the approach is much different.  Instead of through treatment, the improvements come through prevention.  To find answers to the questions that need to be asked, however, is a daunting and tedious task.  As students of public health, we inveribly read study after study about this or that.  Sometimes we might scoff at a sample size that we deem too small, or wonder why the researchers didn’t take a closer look at something.  It is not until we, ourselves, actually try and complete these studies that we realize just how much work actually goes into them.

A study that I am currently working on calls for data to be collected on 200 patients via written survey.  Easy enough….or so I thought.  At any given day in the clinic, the doctors may see 40 patients.  Half of them, however, usually are not eligible to participate.  Out of the remaining 20, half have already completed the survey at a prior visit.  That leaves maybe 10 eligible patients, some of whom don’t want to participate, and some of whom I miss because I am busy interviewing someone else.   Most days in the clinic, I spend 8 hours on my feet, running back and forth, trying to talk to people, only to come away with maybe 5 interviews.   And that’s if I’m lucky.   As harrowing as it is sometimes, I always leave the clinic feeling really happy.  In my mind, each and every survey is like gold.  While one survey alone may not be that big of a deal, each one is a part of something that is much bigger than myself.  Each one is a contribution. Each one is a piece of the puzzle that will eventually serve to unlock the answers to questions that may help people improve their heath and wellbeing.   And the best part is, I can do it all without seeing a single drop of blood.  That is of course, provided I don’t staple the surveys to my finger.

by Anonymous

SoCal Stories – An internship update

Unji Gujral shares an update from Southern California…

Greetings everyone from sunny Southern California!  Not to brag, but the weather here is absolutely amazing!!!  I hope everyone is enjoying their summers and having a wonderful time at their respective internships.  I have been working at the Chao Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UCI Med Center for about a month now.  The Med Center is located in the heart of Orange County, California (or as many people know it, “The OC”).  I am just a stone’s throw away from Disneyland and Angel Stadium, although I have yet to visit either place since being back home.   My job here consists of interviewing patients in the clinic, completing retrospective chart reviews, attending lectures and symposiums, and working with our dear friend, SAS.  To be honest, the retrospective chart review aspect sucks.  While looking through these charts, I am forced to sit in a frigid room, by myself, for hours on end, with nothing but boxes of illegible medical records to keep me company.  While the chart review is rather miserable, my favorite part of the experience by far is interviewing the patients in the clinic.  All of the women I speak with have had some sort of gynecological cancer, ie cervical, ovarian, uterine, etc.  The majority have had complete hysterectomies, and have gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation as a part of their treatment.  What amazes me about these women is their strength.  Despite their circumstances, they are happy.  They approach what is dealt to them with amazing attitudes and brilliant outlooks on life.  Perhaps my favorite patient thus far is a woman named Monica.  I had the pleasure of meeting her when she came to the clinic for a follow up after her last round of chemotherapy.  Monica can best be described as a vibrant Hispanic woman in her 40’s who exudes an aura of warmth and kindness.  The second she walked into the clinic she gave hugs and kisses to all of the nurses and smiles to all of her fellow patients.    Like most patients, she was more than happy to sit and chat with me.  She told me that she loved coming to the clinic because she got to see her “boyfriend” (the attending physician that she admittedly has a crush on).  When I asked her how she was feeling after her treatment she replied with a smile and said “I feel great!  I am not going to let this disease get me down.  Oh, and girl, I know I still look good, with hair or without!”  After our interview, she left me with a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I only spent 20 minutes with her, but I know I am going to remember Monica for a very long time.

I am not sure what I was hoping to get out of this internship.  Going into it, I think I was looking for some research experience, data for my thesis, and perhaps a publication.  While I hope that I do attain those things, the lessons I am learning from the women I talk to are the things I will value the most.  I am learning that the human spirit has a remarkable capacity to overcome.  I am learning that strength comes in many shapes and forms.  I am learning that if you want to find out what people need in order to improve their health and quality of life, all you have to do is be sincere in your caring, and ask them.  I am learning that laughter and a good attitude really is the best medicine, preventative or otherwise.  Most of all, I am learning about what I value in terms of a career in public health.  I love putting faces to, and interacting with, the people whose lives we aim to improve through our work.  While the chart reviews and the SAS may not always be so favorable, its all worth it when the Monicas of the world live to thrive and smile another day.

 [Don’t forget to send in your update to get posted on the blog!]

Global Health Leadership Initative a Success!

Check out Lauren Taylor and Betsy Bradley’s article in the Huffington Post about the GHLI conference.

Here at Yale, the Global Health Leadership Institute is working to usher in this new era of global health work. From June 14-19, healthcare leaders from five countries will come together to learn with academic leaders in health management and grand strategy about what it means to be a part of this new generation of global healthcare leadership. Each delegation will arrive with a specific health system challenge that is a current priority for the country. The Conference design features include team-based learning, community-building using principles from organizational psychology and experiential problem-solving, and adequate time for group reflection. If successful, all delegations will leave with a clearer plan for addressing their countries’ challenges and a new understanding about “what works” and what doesn’t in developing effective leadership.

Does anyone have any good photos to post on the blog?

Sign the SustiNet petition!

 A note from the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. Please sign and forward!

SustiNet has passed the state House and Senate and will arrive on the Governor’s desk very soon.  Please add your name to the call for Governor Rell to sign SustiNet into law.

Sign the petition

We need your signature on the petition, but we also need you to reach out to your friends, family, and networks and ask them to sign it as well.  Time is short — we want to have all of our signatures ready by Monday, June 15. 

Once Governor Rell has the bill, we will deliver your signatures to her office.  Tell Governor Rell — Connecticut needs health care we can all count on!

More information:
SustiNet Explained (pdf)
House vote
Senate vote
Language of SustiNet — Public Act 09-148

Taking my ideas to Congress!

Hey YPH blog readers,

Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve been busy presenting my ideas for health reform to Congress! This past Monday, the Roosevelt Institution as well as Senator Bingaman and Senator Lugar helped me organize a briefing in the Capitol for me to present my new Brookings Institution paper on automatic enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP.

We had a number of really top experts from think tanks across DC discussing my paper, which was a little intimidating, but also really cool. Overall people really seemed to like it, and now we’re going to begin the task of trying to get the idea included in health care reform!

I can’t wait to hear more aboutwhat you’re all up to this summer…

Graduation Speeches Now on the Blog!

Congratulations Class of 2009!

Check out the graduation speeches written by some members of our class, and check back soon for ways to share photos, videos, and post-graduation plans.

See below for a word cloud of all the speeches…