Speaking my Truth…

Entering this internship at the beginning of the summer, I had a vision for my future: fuse my passions for health care and economics to work towards health equity and equal opportunity. However, I wasn’t certain how to actively pursue it because I hadn’t made any definitive decisions about career paths. My internship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center guided me in this exploration and opened my eyes to various ways to incorporate my broad interests in a future career.

While the primary focus of my internship was research, I had the opportunity to network with various health care professionals, which aided in my career exploration. I was able to see multiple facets of working in a hospital environment – clinical, research, financial, and administrative. While I spoke to professionals with a diversity of backgrounds and in a variety of settings, all of them emphasized the importance of working as a team with other individuals. In order to attain better outcomes, information must be effectively communicated and patient care must be carefully coordinated. Within a hospital environment, everyone has a part in bettering the outcome and experience of the patient. Having the opportunity to see various roles (direct and indirect) of the patient care team allowed me to see that one can make an impact in healthcare without necessarily being a doctor, or even a clinician. While my career goals have changed slightly, I still desire to make a positive impact via pursuing a career in health care.

One of my biggest learning moments for the summer was actually outside the hospital where I observed my supervisor’s work in community health. In this setting, I witnessed a host of activities: the grant-writing process, long-term goal setting, and neighbor-to-neighbor outreach in the community, all of which require coordination and collaboration.  In discussing the organization’s conditions for success, an Americorps Public Ally shared a tenant she learned in her program – “speak your truth.” She explained that this means not only speaking honestly, but also speaking what you, as a unique individual, know to be true. During my experiences with this community organization, I learned that this means you can’t make assumptions that everyone thinks the same way you do. You can’t speak on behalf of others, but you can speak on behalf of what you know to be true – your vision for the future.

This summer I learned how to pursue my vision for the future and how to really own it.  Just because my career goals change, doesn’t mean my vision for the future has to. I know that wherever I end up, I will be taking an active part in the the pursuit for health equity and equal opportunity to survive and thrive. That’s my truth that I will speak.

Written by Katie Wheeler, BC Class of 2017

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An Opportunity to Examine Opportunity

What society needs is deeper than health equality. We need to work towards health equity, such that everyone has equal opportunity to live happy, healthy fulfilling lives. This summer, I have the opportunity to apply what I have learned from my Boston College education in ways that will allow me to do just that – work towards health equity.

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An overarching theme of my Boston College education is social justice in everyday life. From my coursework, I have learned that this means examining the distribution of wealth and opportunities of society. BC has helped me in learning how to thoughtfully apply these concepts from academia to real world experiences. A theme from my PULSE class was that learning is not limited to the four walls of a classroom. I found myself taking concepts from class – respect and dignity of the person, social justice, and equity- to the work I was doing as an Emergency Room volunteer in East Boston. I am currently undergoing a similar experience in my internship. I have found many of the concepts I learned in public health – accompaniment, capacity building, and upstream problem solving, are applicable to my experiences in learning about opportunity and health equity at the community level.

During my internship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, I will be working on a research project that is centered around the distribution of opportunity and healthcare, using the Child Opportunity Index. As I complete this internship, my challenge will be to seek ways to incorporate equity into health care by identifying disparities in opportunity. During my PULSE service placement I saw firsthand how the cyclical nature of poverty affects access to care and the opportunity for good health. PULSE helped me to understand how this happens. This summer, I will have the opportunity to examine why this happens.

Written by Katie Wheeler, BC Class of 2017