#HAWMC: I Write Because…

This post continues the month-long series called the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) created by WEGO Health.  Today’s writing prompt:      I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping. 

 

Throughout my education and training, I had always been fascinated by bioethics (don’t laugh)  and for several semesters I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as an adjunct instructor for the Health Care Ethics course at Howard University College of Medicine.  This course is uniquely designed to be interdisciplinary. Providing a great opportunity for future doctors, dentists, nurses, allied health professionals and health care administrators to collaborate as a team to solve the cases we examined from week to week.  Each speciality brings its own point of view creating a rich and sometimes contentious discussion. Something that is necessary to help students become confident in the individual skill sets they each bring to the team.  I was surprised to learn just how much the medical student in particular believe, “this patient just doesn’t know what’s good for them” or “I know best.”  In so many of the case discussions, it was difficult for them to respect and sometimes recognize the patient’s right to autonomy.  I found myself not only an instructor but also an advocate, a champion against medical paternalism.  Paternalism was a training philosophy I believed had gone out of favor decades earlier. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to work with so many students.  I hope in some way I assisted them in becoming sensitive, compassionate and ethically astute health care practitioners.

I also realized that my knowledge of the system provided me with an advantage many patients do not have.  It’s very  difficult to take a proactive role in your healthcare decision-making when you don’t fully understand what the physician and other health care providers are telling you. More importantly (despite many arguments to the contrary) bioethics is not some ivory-tower theory, but rather real-world challenges individuals face from day-to-day.  How can we make the topic and its practice accessible to the masses? It was also at this time that the Obama Administration began the work of crafting legislation that would reform our healthcare system. This was a crucial policy cross-roads.  I followed it closely, absorbing all the information I possibly could. (I realize this makes me a full fledge health policy wonk and really that’s okay). My research led me to the rich and sometimes bewildering online labyrinth of information and communities within healthcare.  I was so passionate about these issues, I wanted in some small way to participate in that discussion. So with very little (social-media) knowledge and lots of naiveté, I wrote my first blog post in December 2008.

As I’ve become more comfortable and further along in my grief journey since the death of my brother, I have discussed personal health and social issues that drive my passion for bioethics, health policy, and health (and medicine) as a whole. I know that this has only served to improve my writing and I hope I can continue developing in this way. Ultimately, I write because we treat healthcare (and access to it) like a simple commodity just like any other and that outrages me. I write about health because it is simply the most precious item we possess, yet we all seem to struggle to protect and nurture it.  This I find so extraordinarily fascinating that I’m compelled to open my mouth (or hammer on my keyboard) and SPEAK!

 Read why other health activist write at the WEGO Health Facebook Page.
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