Although we have only gone through the first few weeks of this course, I have already learned so much about healthcare and the roles of healthcare providers in today’s world. There is so much more to it than science and research. Providers are not only treaters of ailments; they are social workers, policy-makers, societal leaders, and the key to a better future for the healthcare system. This course has made me even more enthusiastic about pursuing a career in medicine.
As of right now, I think becoming a doctor would be a wise choice for me. My interest in medicine began with my own journey through a complicated illness. While visiting relatives, I had a fever and was diagnosed with pneumonia after being hospitalized in a rural community. A few days and multiple medications later, I was back home. Persistent fevers, coughing, and weakness led to another hospitalization where doctors identified that infected fluid was accumulating in my lung cavity. I was then transferred again to a larger hospital where I underwent surgery to drain the fluid and remove portions of infected lung tissue. I underwent intravenous antibiotics for another six weeks. During this physically-draining time, I had many meaningful interactions with multiple doctors. Each day, my family and I waited to speak with physicians. I believe those few minutes of interaction I had with doctors were crucial towards my prognosis. I realized the most memorable physicians, those with whom I felt most comfortable, were those who displayed great empathy and compassion. They would take the time to give words of encouragement and cheer me up, even though they were seeing so many other patients with problems much worse than mine. It became clear to me the power of empathy is what lasts through the memories of illness. This, combined with my expanding interest in science, led me to consider the marriage of these two into a viable occupation. Empathy and science are keystones in the practice of medicine, and thus my interest in healthcare was born.
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Practically speaking, it is sensible to pursue medicine as a career. While the path towards becoming a doctor is long and quite daunting, in the end I believe it pays off (literally and figuratively). There is immense job security and it is emotionally very satisfying to help improve the quality of life of others. Moreover, there is an increasing need for doctors in our society. One of the largest healthcare problems of today is substance abuse. Sonnenberg (2010) believes the World Health Organization’s estimate of 90 million worldwide substance abusers is a questionable underestimation. But this goes deeper than just general drug use. More specifically, the US is facing the Opioid Crisis, “the worst drug crisis in American history” (The New York Times, 2017), and it is up to the next generation of healthcare providers to find the solution. I know two people who have overdosed on heroin. Thankfully, they are still alive, but there have been many people across the world who were not so lucky. In 2016, over 64,000 people died in the US alone because of an accidental drug overdose (Loving, 2018). There is an enormous amount of people who need to be helped, and this calls for more physicians in the workforce.
In addition to clinical care, this class has taught me there are multiple other ways in which healthcare providers can help mitigate issues. As we prepare for the future, I think we need to redefine the healthcare system. This means providers need to take on the roles of social workers and policy-makers. Healthcare should no longer be centered around the doctor’s orders, which is the way this system has worked for decades (Gawande, 2002). Emphasis should be put on individual patients and their unique needs. Healthcare is so focused on cost that, to me, it seems as if actual health is less important than the monetary value of someone’s care. Doctors are shortening visit times with patients, thus lowering the quality of care while increasing the number of patients seen each day (Groopman, 2007). This kind of thinking is very prevalent in the healthcare system, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible if we are to make any positive impact on the state of patient care in the foreseeable future. I am looking forward to entering the healthcare field and finding solutions to these decades-old problems.
I am also eager to improve social policy to benefit general health education in our communities. This endeavor stemmed from a familial tragedy that inspired me to start a lifelong project. On the day after his fortieth birthday, my uncle crashed his car and suffered from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). No one performed CPR for eight minutes until he was reached by an ambulance. He survived, albeit with limited mobility and communication skills. For years, this event troubled me; I often wondered how it could have been prevented. Researching SCA and looking for proven solutions, I learned that community engagement in CPR was crucial in order to drastically increase the SCA survival rate. Inspired by my uncle’s story, I became CPR-certified, and later a CPR instructor. I founded an organization to certify citizens of my community in both CPR and AED use. The goal was to create an ever-growing group of CPR-trained citizens that would directly improve the survival rate of SCA. To date, I have certified more than 200 people. Watching each person pass their CPR skills test is extremely gratifying; I know I am making my community safer and more knowledgeable. I will continue to educate and save individuals throughout my life. If more people can perform CPR, lasting damages from SCA will significantly decrease, and more people like my uncle will be saved. That is why I want to make SCA awareness and CPR education mandatory in secondary education. This can be achieved by working with educational departments across the state and country. We can create a curriculum to teach students about SCA and how to prevent deaths through CPR.
I am very excited to continue pursuing my goal of becoming a doctor at UT. I plan to continue into medicine in order to tackle the health and social issues pervading our society today. We are the generation that will fix health policy, and it starts here, now.