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Alan Arriaga

Alan Arriaga

What is your hometown?
Mexico City

What are your interests/hobbies?
Read, attend conferences, and travel the world

What are your favorite Chicago activities?
Walk the city, visit friends, and go to concerts

Did you work full time through the program?
I worked full time during 2 quarters, and during other 2 I worked part time.

Was time commitment reasonable?
The time commitment was reasonable for completing the tasks, but I wish I had had more time to do more research or more activities related to the program.

Were you able to balance work and school?
Even though I paused some activities and hobbies in order to perform well at work and school, it was only one year, no big deal.

Professionally, what are you doing now?
I left my job at a company that does interactive patient engagement and education programs to seek  a career in the government, promoting innovation, cooperation, and organization in the health care industry.

Tell us about a “Northwestern moment.” More specifically, was there a moment either in class or otherwise associated with the program where something really clicked for you?
When we talked about the difference between the biomedical model and the biopsychosocial perspective of illness, I understood for the first time that patients are people before being patients; they should be treated as people with dreams, feelings, and lives who happen to be patients in the moment of illness, not as mere patients.

How has the program changed the way you view healthcare?  
First, I saw the whole picture of how the system works, with both its strengths and flaws. I understood the different interactions between the players of the system and the broken parts of their communications.  I changed my view of ill people, from patients who need to be fixed to clients who are hiring a service.  I changed my opinion from “Most chronic diseases are preventable, but people make bad decisions” to “we need to communicate better if we want a healthier population.” I changed the idea that patients don´t get better because the doctor did a bad job to the idea that we need to engage patients if we want them to change their behavior.

Did you discover anything new or unexpected at Northwestern?
Yes. I learned that ideas from several sciences can be applied and are valuable for health care. It is actually in that exchange of ideas between health care and other disciplines (communication, sociology, psychology, business, design, innovation, literature, etc.) that the best solutions are found.