It happened to me and I know it happened to you. Your age, or gender, or race, or job, or location on the American continent did not spare you. Sometime in the past five years, it happened. There was that contentious Thanksgiving dinner among relatives. There was that post by a friend that lit up Facebook. There was that guy yelling at you on the street or on campus to sign his petition. Sometime in the past five years, we ran into someone with a very strong opinion on healthcare reform—and we really didn’t have one to offer back. Or, worse yet, we did have one to offer back. Then, let’s just say the feedback we received was not very nice.
I am not a clinician or a healthcare executive, nor is anyone in my family. I am young and healthy. In theory, the reform of the healthcare system should not be a top issue in my family. It is a top issue in every family. The healthcare system in this country affects us all and we all need to express how we want to shape it. This is not an endorsement of any political position. Certainly, Northwestern and the Health Communication program do not endorse any political position. If you want to know my personal opinion, drop me an email and we’ll talk. But we cannot in good conscious deny the tightly woven relationship that healthcare and personal politics play in this country. There is a great national argument on how we can ensure affordable healthcare for all Americans and all our voices matter. The great national health communication problem involved is making sure those voices are heard clearly.
If you are a similar prospective student interested in this program, and want to know what a current student like myself has gotten out of it so far, it is just that: voice. In the past six months, I have completed 4 courses and attended 20 seminars of industry professionals. From the conservative hospital administrator looking to curtail spending with colonoscopy reminder mailers to the progressive social worker hoping to curtail childhood obesity with community gardening, from the extensive economic studies on the 2010 Affordable Care Act to sociological literature on suffering, and the dozens of personal and professional stories by classmates in-between. Each week in the Health Communication program is an immersive learning experience. With this diverse array of knowledge and experience now in my pocket, my personal feelings on healthcare are developing into personal values that will follow me throughout my career and in my own personal health care.
While career paths and personal health may go off into several uncertain tangents, values always remain steadfast and strong. Values can be voiced confidently. Thanks to my MS in Health Communication from Northwestern they will be. I hope the same for you.
Photo by Oran Viriyincy under free attribution license. The photographer does not endorse this written work.