Vote for Health
Thomas Robey -- Did your man win? No matter your answer, there are more Americans this year than ever who can answer that question. There have been a few nods to this year’s election here at The Differential. If you’re from the US and reading this, you are probably in the voting demographic cited as having the most impact on this outcome. So if this was the first time you voted (no matter who you voted for), congratulations.
But waiting in line for three hours or slogging through pages of propositions doesn’t entitle you to complacency for the next four years. Whether in New York or New Guinea, the UK or the UAE, we medical students have our hands full with future careers in health care. If the stresses of caring for patients -– limited supplies, long hours, unintelligible reimbursement procedures, and the complexity of disease -– aren’t enough, take a moment to consider your patients. Issues such as limited housing, decisions between food and medicine, neglected diseases, and access to care transcend what we learn in medical school. These are in the academic domain of social and political scientists. They are also problems that outlast any elected official.
The transient nature of representative government makes health care issues difficult to address. The kind of quick fixes officials make to get re-elected may conflict with a cogent long-term approach. For a few moments –- in between debates about the war and the global financial crisis -– I heard talk about a plan to expand the American health care system to improve access for more than 40 million in the US who cannot pay for health care. I think I remember talk like that 15 years ago.
Politicians come and go, but medicine is a career for life. Many of us would rather name it a calling. Why not pick up the phone and call your representative to say, “I’m in the business of caring for the sick, and my company needs a bailout?” And after you get a canned response that health care is important to so-and-so, thank you for your vote, find an evening clinic that needs a volunteer provider. Maybe someday you’ll open your own clinic. Or consider malaria or dengue fever as a research topic. Or take a few more classes to get an MPH or other degree that will help you understand the health system so that you can take the next step of fixing it.
After November 4, 2008, there’s a lot of excitement around the United States, and the world. I’m afraid that response will fall into the category of patients we worry about the most: lost to follow-up.
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Posted by: Adam | Dec 1, 2011 12:40:01 AM
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