23 March, 2010

health care

While preparing for medical school interviews last summer I made sure I was confident in my response to any questions about health care reform. I had no problem doing this, as it is something that interests me and it really helped me to process my thoughts about the issue. With the historic passing of the health care bill this weekend I think now is the perfect time to share my thoughts. I am fairly ignorant of all the politics and economics involved, but I certainly think the system is in need of repair. I am hopeful that this bill will begin to make that repair possible, but I also think it ignores some of the main problems.

I propose that we need a sort of social health care reform, a new cultural attitude toward health in general. As a society we have become so detached from our own whole well-being. We have dissected it into diets and statistics about exercise and visits to multiple physicians for pills and procedures to make us "better". Did you know that Texas high schools no longer require that students take a health class? And PE is only required until 6th grade? Although I never thought these classes did me a whole lot of good, I  think this is a problem, at least symbolically. It is essential that we educate our children about nutrition and encourage them to form habits of eating well and being physically active. One of my goals as a future physician is to educate my patients about having a healthy lifestyle. I also want to participate in programs that promote these things within my community (and I won't be waiting until I have an MD to do that!).

I think the second thing our country needs is an increased emphasis on preventative health care. We need to encourage all the people who will finally be able to have health insurance to see family doctors and OB/Gyn's on a yearly basis, rather than waiting until they get sick and going to the emergency room on a Friday night. If a 30-year-old man finds out that he has high blood pressure and can work with his physician to control that, he might not need a heart catheterization when he is 50. The benefits of this to the individual, the physician, the nation's health care system, and the health of America as a whole will go a long way.

After voicing these thoughts one interviewer said that I sounded like a passionate primary care physician-to-be. I'm not sure about the primary care part, but the passion is definitely there.

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