July 20, 2009
Putting Things into Perspective
"Historic." "Our generation's revolution." "The biggest movement of our lives."
These are phrases that I have heard almost every day I have been working for the American Medical Students Association as a Health Care Quality and Safety Intern (or the short form- Better Care Intern). It's been an interesting summer as I have this amazing opportunity to be a witness to not only a huge organization while being apart of it, but I am also a witness to a huge change that is about to happen....or at least, hopefully a huge change. A change in a field that I am on the precipice of entering. Health care reform is a shift for me from background in physics and math, but definitely a welcome shift. Besides last summer in South Africa, never have I been so engaged or immersed in a field so complex and so encompassing.
Before this summer, if someone would have asked me, "Do you think health care is a human right?", I would have looked at them strangely and vehemently said "Yes, of course." Now, during the summer, I still would have said "Yes" but it would be a yes with an understanding that our country, the country who spends the most amount of money in the world on health care more than even China which has 1 billion people compared to our 300 million and has universal coverage, does not think that health care is a human right. That it is a privilege to be earned by those who earn. That health care is a business, a now uncontrollable economic force. And high quality health care- well, that is a luxury only few can realize.
Maybe I'm being naive or too idealistic. But I can help cringe when I hear stories of many who do have access to health care having difficulties getting proper treatment or being turned away from doctors when they are at the worst. And I cannot help but wonder what someone does when they don't have health insurance and realize that even though they may be so ill that they can barely survive, that going to the doctor is not an option. If having reactions to these situations is called "naive", then wouldn't we rather have naive doctors or naive lawmakers or naive insurance companies?
And so being overwhelmed and troubled but wanting to help as much as I can, I am resurrecting this in hopes of putting everything I learn this summer and beyond into perspective. I don't want to lose these thoughts nor do I want to remain stagnant in my understanding of the what's happening right now. I also want those who are closes to me to read this and understand what I am doing here on a day to day basis and why I am. Soon I'll be surrounded by classmates who will have the same goal to become a physician. I want to hear from not just my fellow future doctors, but also my friends, my family, and people who will have to deal with this issue everyday. One day, I won't be just the doctor - one day, I will be the patient. In medical school, I can only hope that I will not forget that fact.
Posted by Reshma Ramachandran at July 20, 2009 12:47 AM